NGO Delegate Laurel Sprague, North America
Thematic Segment: Addressing Social and Economic Drivers of HIV through Social Protection
“The NGO Delegation expresses our appreciation to the panelists. The participation and leadership of sex workers, people who use drugs, transgender people, gay men and other men who have sex with men, and those who have been imprisoned are absolutely necessary for our efforts to ensure a decent life for all people.
Social protection, of course, is not a new concept. It forms part of the economic, social, and cultural rights that are absolutely necessary for an adequate response to the epidemic. In order to be true to our human rights agenda, we have to give equal attention to civil and political rights and to economic, social and cultural rights.
I wish to share something about one group who is not here to speak for themselves. I am speaking of Indigenous Peoples who remain persistently invisible in most global and national HIV responses.
Marama Pala of the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV and AIDS, warns that the impact of UNAIDS’ Three Zeroes goals is significantly compromised for Indigenous Peoples. HIV affects indigenous peoples at a disproportionate rate compared to non-indigenous populations and the social health determinants for indigenous populations place them at ever increasing risk for a multitude of health disparities. Even in countries with a high Human Development Index, indigenous people experience lower life expectancy, education, and quality of life. Indigenous Peoples clearly must be included as full partners in the struggle to end the epidemic.
We look forward to the greater inclusion of Indigenous Peoples living with and affected by HIV at future PCBs and to increased attention to all human rights.”