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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press release on the occasion of World AIDS Day, 2016

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV and those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV (the Committee), a subsidiary mechanism of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, joins the entire world in celebrating World AIDS Day on 1 December of each year. 

This year’s theme “HANDS UP FOR HIV PREVENTION” reminds of the crucial importance of supporting a strategic and enhanced mobilisation worldwide, especially through information, training and awareness-raising actions at all levels in the fight against the pandemic.

Despite some progress noted in the reduction of new infections among children, the Committee remains concerned about the increase, in certain parts of Africa, in new infections especially among young people and adults, thus justifying the special consideration which should be given to on-going HIV prevention efforts for an accelerated response to end AIDS by 2030. 

The Committee is particularly concerned about the situation of young girls and women in Africa. Data from studies conducted in 2015 in six regions within Southern and East Africa reveal that in Southern Africa, girls aged 15 to 19 years account for 90% of all new HIV infections among the 10-19 age group, and over 74% in East Africa. Furthermore, the recent UNAIDS report “Get on the Fast-Track: the life-cycle approach to HIV” indicates that the ages between 15 and 24 years are an incredibly dangerous time for young women.

This situation is aggravated by a variety of factors which must be urgently addressed to reverse these trends. These include, in particular, lack of access for adolescents to HIV-related prevention, care and treatment services, inadequate healthcare service delivery, persistence of gender inequalities and gender-based violence, lack of decision-making power, and stigma.

The Committee on PLHIVs takes this opportunity afforded by World AIDS Day to urge States Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) to enhance their prevention programmes through actions aimed at promoting sexual education and preventing gender-based violence in order to effectively fight against the risk of high infections and vulnerability among adolescents, in particular girls and young women.

The Committee calls on States Parties to the African Charter to adopt the necessary measures for compliance with their commitments under the various ratified international and regional instruments by developing HIV/AIDS programmes, strategies and legal frameworks which help to effectively protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, vulnerable persons and those at risk, and improve their access to quality HIV treatment, care and support services.  

The Committee further calls on States Parties to the African Charter to encourage a population and location approach to all HIV/AIDS programmes following the five prevention pillars adopted by UNAIDS, which consist of delivering, comprehensively and in combination, programmes for young women and adolescent girls and their male partners in high-prevalence locations, key population services in all countries, strengthened national condom programmes, voluntary medical male circumcision in priority countries, and PrEP for population groups at higher risk of HIV infection.

The Committee also invites each and every one, in this African Year of Human Rights, to engage in promoting, protecting, and ensuring respect for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Honourable Commissioner Soyata Maiga

Chairperson of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV and those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV