Worldwide, approximately 40 million people live with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. Half of all adults living with HIV/AIDS are female and in sub-Saharan Africa, the most affected region, the figure is nearly 60 per cent1. Twenty million people have died from AIDS since the first cases were identified in 1981. More than 14 million children have become AIDS orphans, and despite antiretroviral therapy that has significantly reduced AIDS-related deaths, the HIV population has expanded alarmingly, increasing by more than 50 per cent since 1991.
The need to find effective ways to deal with the transmission of HIV, in all nations, rich and poor, is now greater than it is has ever been. And with more people living with HIVthan at any time in our past, the need to protect their health and human rights is also greater than it has ever been.
Human rights are fundamental to the response to HIV, for three reasons: ethical, because all human beings have a right to health, to life and all other human rights; legal, to implement the International Declaration on Human Rights and the many other international and national laws and guidelines on human rights, and for pragmatic reasons, because it is beyond doubt that a human rights based response, which empowers our whole community to avoid infection, and which treats those with HIV with respect and inclusion and aims to properly manage their health, is significantly more effective in reducing the spread of HIV than a response of silence, discrimination or exclusion.
Declared by people in Australia living with HIV/AIDS, through their National, State and Territory representative bodies at the Tenth Biennial NAPWHA Conference, Adelaide, South Australia on Friday November 18, 2005.