No End to HIV Until Human Rights of Key Populations are Protected

Last week, MSMGF attended the UN’s Human Rights Council Social Forum on “the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of the HIV epidemic and other communicable diseases and other epidemics.” An annual three-day meeting in Geneva, the Social Forum is a unique space for open and interactive dialogue between civil society, representatives of Member States, and intergovernmental organizations.

Co-chaired by Brazil and Belarus, the Social Forum tackled issues such as human rights in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), discrimination and the right to health, the role of civil society and communities in epidemic control, the role of health care workers in the promotion and protection of human rights, and access to medicines.

Addressing the unique human rights barriers experienced by gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, sex workers, and transgender people is essential to this discussion.

“Without treating civil society and community partners as equals, HIV and other diseases that disproportionately affect socially marginalized people will continue unabated,” said MSMGF’s Senior Policy Advisor, Stephen Leonelli in his closing remarks at the event.

Full video recordings from the Social Forum are available on UN WebTV. Be sure to view the interventions made by our community partners at Othman Mellouk of ITPC, Phylesha Brown-Acton of ATPN, Laurel Sprague of GNP+, Kene Esom of AMSHeR, Christine Stegling of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Brun Gonzalez Aguilar of INPUD, and Michaela Clayton of ARASA.

The Social Forum coincided with a new report released by UNAIDS, Confronting Discrimination:  Overcoming HIV-related Stigma and Discrimination in Health-care Settings and Beyond. The report confirms what we have known since the outset of HIV:  that stigma and discrimination prevent people from accessing health services.

“The goal to end AIDS by 2030 will not be achieved without targeted programs and resources to address the needs of key populations, and in order for these programs to be effective, we need data.” – Stephen Leonelli

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will produce an output document that summarizes the main findings from the three-day discussion, to be released later this year. The Social Forum output document will inform future efforts at the UN Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly to formulate resolutions on human rights and HIV and other communicable diseases.

MSMGF will continue to monitor the way that UN agencies and Member States frame the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of HIV, so that we can ensure blanket, top-down approaches will not fail our communities.

About MSMGF:
MSMGF is an expanding network of advocates and other experts in sexual health, LGBT/human rights, research, and policy, working to ensure an effective response to HIV among gay men and other men who have sex with men. We are directly linked with more than 120 community-based organizations, across 62 countries.