ASHM Report Back

Clinical posts from members and guests of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) from various international medical and scientific conferences on HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, and sexual health.

HIV response to include people living with disability

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According to WHO, 15% of the world's population are living with disability. People living with disability are at increased risk of exposure to HIV, more dependent on the welfare system, more likely to live in poverty and less likely to have access to HIV education.

People living with disability are also more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviours and are at increased risk of sexual abuse. Importantly, HIV infection and treatment can actually cause disability—a double-edged sword for people living with disability. We cannot afford to ignore the relevance of disability to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

So began the preliminary presentation for a disability community skills development workshop at #AIDS2014 "The world's biggest minority left behind: National HIV responses need to and can include disability."

The goal of the workshop was to gain insights, feedback and input from delegates for the UNAIDS Strategy on HIV and Disability 2015-2017.

In breakout groups, participants discussed stigma and discrimination against people with disability (PWD) who are living with HIV, barriers to HIV/STI education, access to prevention programs and treatment, co-morbidities including intellectual disability and mental health issues.

Key Points - Peer Support breakout session facilitated by Matthew Bowden - PWD Australia

  • Need to respond to the diversity of the disabled community - disability takes many forms
  • Positive people with disability to have a leadership role in policy development and peer response
  • Realign all HIV policy frameworks to be inclusive of disability
  • Peer counselling is a powerful tool for HIV support and education in the disability space
  • Disability must move beyond the concept of charity into the the light of a mainstream response to HIV

Workshop convenors, UNAIDS along with their key partners UNESCO and WHO have made it their goal to define specific disability-related targets for the UNAIDs Strategy on HIV and Disability 2015-2017 by December 2014. It was a privilege to be involved in a workshop with a direct line of communication to HIV/AIDS policy makers.

Tagged in: AIDS 2014
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