Foreword—Harnessing the Power and Promise of Human Rights to End AIDS by 2030

Special Section on HIV and Human Rights 
in collaboration with UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Geneva, Switzerland  [Twelve articles]
Posted on December 5, 2017

Foreword—Harnessing the Power and Promise of Human Rights to End AIDS by 2030

Michel Sidibé

The HIV epidemic and response are at a critical juncture. Our advances against the epidemic have been impressive, with unprecedented numbers of people accessing antiretroviral treatment, especially in low- and middle-income countries, and a global reduction in new HIV infections.

However, the epidemic is not over, and the challenges ahead are significant. More than 15.8 million people are still awaiting treatment, while an estimated 11 million people do not know their HIV status. Globally, adolescent girls and young women account for approximately 7,000 new HIV infections every week. These figures represent an indefensible injustice: millions of people worldwide are being denied their right to health.

Common to these challenges are stigma, discrimination, gender inequality, denial of services, violence, and human rights violations against people living with HIV and those most vulnerable to the epidemic, including women, young people, sex workers, prisoners, people who use drugs, transgender persons, and gay men and men who have sex with men.

In all regions, and regardless of the nature and level of the epidemic, vulnerability to HIV is linked to inequality and disenfranchisement; and women and those at the margins of society remain underserved by health services, including HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services. This special section of Health and Human Rights comes at an opportune moment to describe and reflect on our progress to realize human rights as an imperative for health…

The underlying message in this special section is that we have a moral and legal responsibility to act. We must build on the rights-based lessons of the past and find innovative ways to expand protections, to promote gender equality, to support civil society and community engagement, to strengthen accountability, and to close the inclusion gap between those who have and those who do not. As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded us at the 2017 Human Rights Council Social Forum: “When human dignity and equality are placed, strongly, at the core of policy, they unlock better outcomes.”