WHO AFRO wants human rights of PLWHAs protected

Brazzaville, Congo (PANA) - The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Sambo, Wednesday called for the protection of the basic human rights of people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHAs), including their rights to employment, access to financial services and other basic conditions required for them to fulfill their social and economic needs.

Dr Sambo made the plea in his message to mark World AIDS Day, observed across the globe on 1 December since 1998.  

World AIDS Day 2010 is being observed under the theme ''Universal Access and Human Rights''.  

“Human rights are fundamental to any response to HIV/AIDS,'' Dr Sambo stressed in his message, ''And the promotion and protection of these rights are necessary to empower individuals and communities to respond to the epidemic.”  

The Regional Director said the critical need to strengthen human rights in responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and in ensuring universal access to HIV prevention, care and treatment had become ever more clear over the past decade, a period during which studies had shown a strong link between the high incidence and the spread of HIV/AIDS among groups already experiencing discrimination and lack human rights protection.

This includes groups that have been marginalized socially, culturally and economically.

He noted that progress was being made in sub-Saharan Africa in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as demonstrated by the steady decline in  or stabilization of the number of new HIV infections, as well as the scaling up of treatment in countries.

Dr Sambo illustrated this progress with current WHO figures, which show that up to 3.9 million people with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in sub-Saharan Africa were reported to be accessing anti-retroviral therapy by the end of 2009, representing a 13-fold increase over the last six years.                                                  

He added, however, that in spite of the progress recorded so far, challenges still remained. Among these were the very high rate at which new infections was occurring -- which continues to be  a matter of great concern -- and  “huge gaps”  in providing access to key interventions.  

The Regional Director therefore called on social and health care providers to be more responsive to the specific needs of PLWHA, ensure confidentiality, and prevent stigma and discrimination.

''It is also incumbent on PLWHA to exercise their rights by seeking counseling, testing and support,'' he advised.
-0- PANA PR/SEG 1Dec2010

01 december 2010 14:02:35

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