41st PCB Meeting
Agenda 5. Update on Actions to Reduce Stigma and Discrimination in all its Forms
Delivered by Martha Carrillo, NGO Latin America and the Caribbean
The NGO Delegation welcomes the Update on Actions to Reduce Stigma and Discrimination that seeks to highlight initiatives undertaken toward the elimination of HIV related discrimination globally.
Recognizing that important goals and strategies have been launched to eliminate stigma and discrimination by 2020 through the removal of punitive laws, policies and practices, addressing human rights violations and creating enabling environments for the most vulnerable to HIV, we also acknowledge that these goals remain far from our reach and the strategies are “not enough” or insufficient. People living with HIV, women, young girls, sex workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons; men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs; and people in prisons, among others, continue to be targets of unfair, inhumane and crippling discriminatory practices in all sectors of society, including in healthcare, legal and socio-economic arenas. Institutionalized rejection, discriminatory attitudes and neglect compromise the ability of these groups to enjoy their right to the highest attainable standards of mental and physical health.
Mr. Chair, it is timely and essential that we acknowledge the urgency to scale up efforts in addressing stigma and discrimination, if we are to achieve the global goals we have set for ourselves. In particular, it is important to recognize the important role of civil society in addressing the needs of key and most vulnerable populations and the need for increased funding to sustain and increase our efforts in raising awareness on the effects of stigma and discrimination, sensitization and attitudinal change and the promotion of human rights. The Delegation calls for “fully-funded civil society and communities” to achieve the goal of eliminating HIV-related stigma and discrimination. Stigma must be taken seriously and considered as the biggest infection that keeps people from accessing services.
In ending, we take this opportunity to recognize countries such as Canada, Australia and Switzerland that stand out as true examples of fostering an enabling environment for populations that for too long have been denied their rights, increasing their risk to HIV. In my own country of Belize, through a court ruling, the Sodomy Law has been found to be discriminatory and in contravention of the constitution. Even though these are stellar examples in alignment with the core principles of the global response to HIV, they remain exceptions begging to be emulated. But this is not enough. Substantial change and effective actions continue to be INSUFFICIENT and ripe for GREATER INNOVATION.