On the occasion of the World AIDS Day, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), through its Committee on The Protection of the Rights Of People Living With HIV (PLHIV) And Those At Risk, Vulnerable To and Affected by HIV (the Committee), joins the rest of the world in commemorating this day.
The theme for World AIDS Day this year is a powerful call to action - “Let Communities Lead”. This theme emphasizes the pivotal role that communities living with and affected by HIV play in the global response to the HIV epidemic. Communities, including networks of people from key populations and youth leaders, have been and continue to be at the forefront of progress in the HIV response. Their tireless efforts encompass a wide range of essential services, including prevention, testing, and treatment support.
Communities have been the bedrock of progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, providing indispensable prevention, testing, and treatment support services. Their efforts extend beyond healthcare, as they build trust, generate innovative solutions, promote health, monitor policy implementation, and hold providers accountable. On this World AIDS Day, the Committee not only celebrate the achievements of these communities but also issue a resounding call to action to enable and support them in their leadership roles, to respond to the unique challenges faced by the communities.
The Committee observes that adequate funding is essential to ensure that communities have the necessary resources to implement and sustain their initiatives, particularly in regions where the burden of HIV is most pronounced. In the context of Africa, where financial resources for health programs are limited, the Committee urges the international community, UNAIDS, and non-governmental organizations to allocate increased funding for HIV prevention, treatment, and care.
Additionally, it is noted that tailoring interventions to specific cultural contexts ensures that they are more likely to be embraced and effectively address the diverse needs of different populations across the continent. Africa is culturally diverse, and the response to HIV/AIDS must be contextually relevant. It is therefore strongly recommended that the design and implementation of programs that actively involve communities, recognize their unique insights and experiences across the continent, including indigenous communities.
In many African countries, legal barriers contribute to the stigmatization of individuals living with HIV, hindering access to healthcare. We call upon stakeholders to advocate for and support the removal of such barriers. Promoting and protecting the human rights of those affected by HIV is integral to creating an environment that encourages testing, treatment, and care.
My Committee is fully aware of the challenges facing communities living with HIV/AIDS in general and is particularly concerned by the eclipsing of the HIV/AIDS pandemic by the COVID-19 pandemic and calls on development partners to redirect the funding support diverted to address COVID-19 back to HIV/AIDS. As we prepare to undertake a study on the Nexus between COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS, we are grappling with the impact of service delivery interruption in general at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Honourable Commissioner Dr. Litha Musyimi-Ogana
Chairperson of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV and those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV