14 June 2011Remarks by International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien at the UK-hosted Human Rights and HIV side event during the 8-10 June High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS
Delighted to see so many of you here today to talk about this issue which is of key importance to our efforts to tackle the developing HIV epidemic.
Outside Africa, the epidemic is increasingly driven amongst key affected populations but we see increased infections among vulnerable groups in Africa too; for example in Kenya, they account for 30% of new infections. These include: sex workers, injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, transgender people and prisoners.
It is crucial that we work with others to address stigma, discrimination and the exclusion of key populations. These are barriers which hamper an adequate response to the epidemic.
The principal challenge is to achieve social and political change to combat this stigma and discrimination and to reach these groups with services.
This means ensuring access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights services, especially for women and young people. It means protecting the human rights of men who have sex with men and ensuring that they can access prevention services. It means ensuring access to comprehensive harm reduction services for injecting drug users, as we know that they work. It means addressing the stigma and discrimination that prevent people from accessing services. It means addressing restrictive laws and policies that hamper the HIV response among key populations.
These are difficult issues for many countries; crucial that we address them openly and without fear; and trust we will be able to do so today.