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AIDS a Human Rights Issue, Urges Ban Ki-Moon
The Barbados Advocate
July 6, 2015
by Kerri Gooding


“AIDS is about more than human health – it is fundamentally an issue of human rights.”

This statement was made by the UN Secretary General, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, on Friday at the Caribbean Launch of the UNAIDS-Lancet Commission: Defeating AIDS – Advancing Global Health Report, at Hilton (Barbados), as he made a case for battling this epidemic over the next few years.

As we forge new sustainable development goals beyond the Millennium Development Goals, he urged, “Ending the AIDS epidemic, in all places and all communities, is essential to realising our vision of a life of dignity for all.

“We can leave no one behind. AIDS will only end when we protect the human rights of all."

“This disease thrives on unjust power relations and inequalities. We have to battle all forms of societal ills, including stigma, intolerance, discrimination and violence."

“To end this epidemic, we need gender equality. We need to protect sexual and reproductive rights. And we need to give adolescents life-skills, including education about their sexuality.”

Entirely cognisant of the challenges, the UN Secretary-general asserted, “We have the knowledge, tools and know-how to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” and he added that “the Commission spells out how to achieve this”.

Speaking to the issues, to be overcome, he said, “A quarter of a million people in this region live with HIV; the governments here struggle to finance their resources. The epidemic is only made worse by punitive laws and stigma. These are driving vulnerability to HIV infection and block access to life-saving treatment. Homophobia affects both human rights and public health."

“We cannot tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, nor on the basis of gender identity. We must also defend the human rights of sex workers and of people who inject drugs.”

Hence, going forward, he further demonstrated that the Report gives guidance to the region to effectively end AIDS, but not without tremendous investments from within and outside of the region.

“We need to urgently increase and fully fund our AIDS response. Today, the world invests $19 billion annually in addressing AIDS. To reach our targets, we need to almost double this amount. I am calling for a rapid scale-up – led by countries, with critical support from global and private partners over the next five years, so that we will be on track to end the epidemic by 2030,” he stressed.

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