Unique HIV & AIDS Initiative for Africa
Persons with disabilities in Africa are at equal or greater risk of HIV infection, compared to their non-disabled peers. Despite this, they have poor access to HIV & AIDS information and services – and they are often left out of HIV & AIDS policies and programs. The Africa Campaign on Disability and HIV & AIDS aims to achieve equal access for at least 60 million Africans with disabilities to information and services on HIV and AIDS. Excluding them is an unacceptable human rights violation, and since persons with disabilities make up 15-20% of the poorest communities, it seriously hinders the fight against t he spread of HIV.
It is high time for development and AIDS organisations, Disabled People's Organisations and governments to join forces. This is why we have created the Africa Campaign on Disability and HIV & AIDS that will be launched on January 25, 2007. Some 60 representatives of organisations in Africa, Europe, the United States and Canada, including the World Bank, will take part in a three day planning session leading up to the launch. The Campaign is led by the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities, based in South Africa and Senegal, and Handicap International.
Studies have shown that persons with disabilities in Africa are at equal or greater risk of HIV infection, compared to non-disabled persons. Stigmas make them less likely to marry and more likely to have several sexual partners in a series of unstable relationships. Disabled adults and children are three times more likely to be victims of sexual violence and rape. Other factors such as physical dependence, life in institutions and lack of access to legal representation, also make them particularly vulnerable to infection and abuse.
Africans with disabilities have poor access to HIV & AIDS information and services. Very few children with disabilities receive an education. Therefore they automatically miss out on school based HIV & AI DS education programmes. Low literacy rates among disabled adults and difficulty to access mass media messages for those with hearing or visual impairments also present real challenges to information outreach. Access to HIV testing, care, medication and support is limited due to social and economic obstacles, problems of physical access, prejudicial attitudes towards persons with disabilities and misconceptions that they are not sexually active.
Despite growing international attention to the rights of persons with disabilities, African governments and policy makers rarely consider disability when formulating and implementing their HIV & AIDS plans.
The final strategic discussions and official launch of the Africa Campaign on Disability and HIV & AIDS will take place on Wednesday the 25th of January in Cape Town, South Africa.
For more information, visit our website www.africacampaign.org, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can call the Secretariat on +27-21-426 5858.