Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

HIV/AIDS and vulnerable groups – no one left behind

 HIV/AIDS and vulnerable groups – no one left behind

Berne, 7 May 2015. "We experienced an exciting conference on the issue of“HIV/AIDS and vulnerable groups – no one left behind”. In a very impressive way, experts from Switzerland and other countries provided an overview on the gravity of the subject of vulnerable groups and the containment of HIV/AIDS. The main problem of this group is that it often does not have access to information, prevention programmes and health care services. Mainly, access to these services is denies due to stigmatisation, discrimination and specific laws (e.g. sex work is illegal) for this group.

„If the goal to end AIDS by the year 2030 – which is also supported by Switzerland – is to be reached, health care provisions must meet the needs of these people“, emphasises Sally Smith of UNAIDS. She knew excellently how to provide a detailed overview on the different vulnerable groups which mainly contribute to the continued existence of the epidemic. Sally Smith made clear that the AIDS epidemic reaches far beyond health problems per se.

The report of Anthony Waldhausen was very impressive; he has successfully raised the awareness of hospital staff and police officers for the needs, hardships and difficulties of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual people (LGBTI).

HIV/Aids is also of concern to us in Switzerland. The HIV-epidemics in Switzerland is characterised by three concentrated epidemics in different fields. Men having sex with men (MSM), intravenous drug consumers as well as migrants originating from high-prevalence countries such as for example from sub-Saharan Africa. Luciano Ruggia from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health presented the impressive results of a first-time study on the sexual behaviour of migrants in Switzerland (ANSWER Study). And Claude Nkanga of the Fondation Profa reported on the difficulties migrants face being in Switzerland. A large problem constitutes the cultural barriers and lack of a consultation and information on existing services and sources of information.

The UNAIDS-„Fast Track“ indicators to reach the containment of the AIDS pandemic represent an ideal framework to attain this goal together. However, these demands – access to rights-based information, prevention programmes and health care services for ALL – cannot be reached without the necessary political will here in Switzerland as well as within the international community and the individual countries. This also includes removing the taboos about sexual practices, the legalisation of sex work as well as ending the stigmatisation and discrimination of ALL vulnerable groups. It is still important to keep this issue on the political agenda and to offer an opportunity to vulnerable groups to articulate and claim their rights.

aidsfocus.ch is a project coordinated by the Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland.

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