Panafrican News Agency

"People with disabilities still unaware of HIV infection" in Africa

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) - The Chairman of the African Disability Alliance (ADA), El hadji Siddo Nouhou Oumarou, on Thursday complained that people with disabilities in Africa are still at the highest risk of HIV infection in Africa, stressing that the main reason is that this category of the population is sometimes overlooked in HIV sexual and reproductive health programmes with increased barriers to accessing services. 

Speaking during a side-event at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA)  currently taking place in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, the Nigerois activist explained that apart from lack of information about HIV, where to get tested, people with disability are also facing challenge related to physical inaccessibility distance for people with reduced mobility.

Both decision makers, researchers and activists gathered at ICASA forum in Kigali are convinced that tackling HIV among people with disabilities needs a rights-based approach, which tackles barriers holistically so that wider issues such as gender-inequality and violence are addressed.

Although HIV-related data on people with disabilities is extremely limited, growing evidence suggest that this special category are more likely to experience factors that put them at higher risk of HIV infection than the other category of population.

"If some Governments (in Africa) have failed to tackle the question of people with disabilities, the time to act is now," the Nigerois activist told delegates.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development explicitly states that people who are vulnerable must be empowered, participants at ICASA forum in Kigali stressed that he SDGs reference issues of disability across sectors such  disaggregation of data by disability.

"There is still a need to promote HIV awareness among persons with disabilities in Africa," El hadji Oumarou  said.

The UNAIDS 2016–2021 Strategy calls to Fast-Track the HIV response and to reach the people being left behind. 

The strategy highlights the bold effort needed to reach the 90–90–90 targets, to close the testing gap and to protect the health of the 22 million people living with HIV who are still not accessing treatment especially in Sub-Saharan Africa region.

To reach this goal, the UNAIDS recommends zero discrimination, person-centred responses, equal access to health programmes and services, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, and integration of rehabilitation into HIV care to enhance quality of life.

-0- PANA TWA/VAO 5Dec2019