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February 2015 Members eNewsletter
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March 2016

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ICW calls on policy makers and communities to stand up for women women living with HIV and invest Zero Discrimination

Today, March 1st 2016, the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) joins UNAIDS, other stakeholders and communities particularly women living with HIV to mark Zero Discrimination Day.


UNAIDS has outlined within the fast track strategy an ambitious agenda to end AIDS and achieve ZERO DISCRIMINATION that requires prioritization, investment and support from national leaders around the world. Indeed, the success of the Sustainable Development Goals rests on our ability as a global community to effectively eliminate stigma and discrimination. This rings true particularly for SDG-Goal 3 on Health which seeks, in part, to reduce maternal mortality, end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; strengthen substance abuse treatment and ensure access to quality health care services including reproductive health care services such as family planning; and SDG-Goal 5 on Gender Equality which seeks to end all discrimination against women and secure sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.


Lived experiences and evidence from the People Living with HIV Stigma Index both indicate that legal and social environments, as well as service providers and healthcare settings are still failing to address stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and those most vulnerable to HIV infection.


Discrimination is not only a violation of human rights, but has been evidenced to negatively influence uptake and retention to HIV prevention, care, and treatment.


Women living with HIV from around the world, have spoken out about the severe and persistent experiences of stigma and discrimination we face in our communities, workplaces and even in health care settings. Experiences of stigma and discrimination can have dangerous impacts on health outcomes for women living with HIV and can result in human rights violations ranging from forced and coerced sterilization, to refusal to provide services, stigmatization at hospitals by hospital staff, breaches of confidentiality, and testing for HIV without informed consent. Many of these violations occur during the provision of health services and are perpetrated by health service personnel.


Globally, countries continue to have laws and policies criminalizing same-sex sexual relations, sex work, drug use, and HIV transmission. Punitive laws and non-progressive legal environments often alienate key populations, particularly female sex workers, undermining their abilities to seek HIV prevention interventions to protect themselves and their clients. Respect for and protection of human rights is critical for effective global and national responses to HIV.


Under the theme ‘transform and stand out for zero discrimination’, this day is an opportunity for stakeholders including governments, healthcare providers, and medical professionals to renew their commitment towards investing in interventions to appreciate all diversity and to ensure zero discrimination for people living with HIV and key populations.


Today, ICW calls on governments, policy makers, programmers and health care institutions to invest in interventions that seek to promote the realization of human rights and to eliminate discriminatory laws and practices. We believe this is critical for realizing the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals and the targets set out under the FAST TRACK STRATEGY for ending AIDS by 2030.


We strongly believe there is no ending AIDS by 2030 without making deliberate efforts to respect human rights, and to create an enabling environment in which every woman and girl, particularly those living with HIV in all our diversity, can actively contribute to HIV prevention and treatment.




Read the full statement here

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