Saturday, 18 November 2017

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HIV/AIDS: Discrimination reported in health care in 60% of European countries

Zero Discrimination Day, 1 March 2017

1 March 2017. 60% of European countries report that stigma and discrimination remain a barrier to the provision of adequate HIV prevention services to key populations.

Data from 50 countries taken from the People Living with HIV Stigma Index show that one in eight people living with HIV report being denied health care. In European countries stigma and discrimination among health-care professionals towards men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs, continues to halt progress.

“Health-care settings should be safe and supportive environments. It is unacceptable that discrimination is inhibiting access to care today,” said Mr Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Eliminating discrimination in health-care settings is critical, and we must demand that it become a reality.”

The Zero Discrimination Day launched in 2016 brings together all stakeholders for joint efforts towards a world where everyone, everywhere, is able to receive the health care they need without discrimination.

Among actions needed  is the removal of punitive laws, policies and practices that undermine people living with HIV, to make sure that everyone everywhere has access to safe health  care. Key populations such as sex workers, transgender people and young women must also receive the correct information about how HIV is transmitted and how it can be treated.

In the first year since the launch of the Zero Discrimination Day, countries such as Thailand, Malawi and Argentina have taken important steps towards eliminating discrimination in healthcare, such as training of healthcare personnel and new reporting systems using SMS to map discrimination access to antiretroviral therapy.

"Now is the time to come together again and finish what we started. Let us seize this opportunity and join the fast-track towards ending aids as a public health threat by 2030," said Mr. Sidibé.

UNAIDS statistics show that in 2015, 36.7 million people were living with HIV, and 15.8 million of these had access to antiretroviral therapy. In 2016, 18.2 million could access the treatment. Since 2010, new HIV infections among children have declined by 50% between 2010 and 2015, from 290 000 new cases in 2010 to 150 000 new cases in 2015. 


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