Ensuring Universal Health Coverage for Key Populations

Elie Ballan of MCoalition delivered the following remarks on behalf of key populations affected by HIV & AIDS at the United Nations‘s Universal Health Coverage multistakeholders hearings, held in NYC on April 29th, 2019.

Ensuring Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for People Living with HIV (PLHIV), Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) People, People Who Use Drugs (PWUD), and Sex Workers

The 2030 Agenda reminds us that the only way to ensure that no one is left behind is to begin by reaching those most marginalized first.

Across the world, PLHIV, LGBTI people, PWUDs, and sex workers are criminalized and experience violence, stigma, and discrimination. These experiences are often compounded by other factors related to one’s health status, age, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and migration status.  Addressing inequities is a prerequisite to achieving UHC.   For UHC to be effective, Member States must respect, protect and promote all people’s human rights, including the right to health, and not merely focus on strengthening health systems.

Additionally, full realization of UHC requires Member States to:

  1. Repeal laws that criminalize HIV non-disclosure, exposure, and transmission, consensual same-sex behavior, gender expression, drug use and possession, and sex work.
  2. Ensure health insurance plans include clauses to protect marginalized and vulnerable populations from discriminatory practices in health care delivery.
  3. Ban coercive medical procedures, including forced anal exams, conversion therapies, corrective rape, female and intersex genital mutilation, compulsory drug rehabilitation, and forced sterilization of women and trans people.
  4. Ensure public institutions are responsive to the needs of our communities through training and sensitization of government officials, law enforcement, and health professionals.
  5. Tailor health programs to our specific needs by ensuring access to affordable: HIV and TB treatments; comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services; mental health services; opioid substitution therapy and evidence-based drug dependence treatment; and hormone therapy.
  6. Address HIV incidence for those at highest risk with prevention programming inclusive of: condoms, lubricants, and pre-exposure prophylaxis; STI testing and treatment; and harm reduction.
  7. Protect the confidentiality and privacy of client data, including information about sexual practices and sexual orientation, sex work, gender identity and expression, and drug use;
  8. Engage and consult our communities as key partners in the development, implementation and monitoring of UHC plans;
  9. Utilize all UN reporting mechanisms, including the Voluntary National Review of the SDGs, Universal Periodic Review, and Global AIDS Monitoring, to document progress towards and challenges in achieving UHC; and
  10. Make resources for UHC easily available to communities, so that we may realize our roles as active and equal partners in health.   

Read More: HIV and the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage: What’s at Stake? – Poz Magazine