New UN handbook aims to help countries in Asia-Pacific region respond to AIDS
Countries in the Asia-Pacific region today received a new United Nations handbook that focuses on the role of human rights in responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Produced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Handbook on HIV and Human Rights is designed to assist the region’s national human rights institutions to integrate HIV into their human rights mandates.
Launched at the eighth International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, being held in Colombo, the publication provides a basic overview of the role of human rights in an effective response to the HIV epidemic and suggests concrete activities that national institutions can carry out.
“This is a critical time for national human rights institutions to engage in the AIDS response,” said Dr. Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director. “We have learned that we will not succeed against HIV unless we address discrimination, gender inequality and other human rights abuses that drive the epidemic. National human rights institutions need to be full partners in the day-to-day AIDS response.”
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour referred to the Handbook as “an essential guide for national institutions in their efforts to ensure that States are held accountable for protecting the rights of people living with HIV.”
Also today at the Congress, the Deputy Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Purnima Mane, emphasized that HIV prevention efforts will be more effective if linked with sexual and reproductive health.
“We know what it takes to break the silence about HIV,” said Ms. Mane. “Going beyond the silence into action is the only way we can face the future generations knowing that we are doing our best to ensure an AIDS-free generation. Let us never forget that prevention is for life.”
During the International Congress, which is being held from 19 to 23 August in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, OHCHR, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UNAIDS will be co-hosting a satellite event entitled “Unblocking the Barriers to Universal Access: the role of national human rights institutions.” The event, which includes the participation of the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV (APN+), will address how national institutions can work with partners to address critical human rights issues in the AIDS response, and promote accountability, including to universal access.