HIV in ’emergencies’

By Bryan Teixeira, Europe NGO Delegate

I am really looking forward to the discussion on this theme at the next PCB meeting in July.

We need a definition of ‘emergencies’ that is broad and flexible if it is to appropriately respond to our changing world and shifts in geopolitics. We need to make sure that emergencies that may affect key vulnerable populations and other populations at risk of being left behind are included in our definition. Emergency contexts are not a one-size-fits-all scenario.

HIV emergencies may result from a state’s lack of the necessary authority structures to protect citizens from various levels of violence; this leads to civil war or communal violence. However, similar violence is also faced by key populations where a country has a continuing impoverished justice system and citizens face ongoing criminality and undermining of their human rights. As power shifts globally and there are renewed attacks on human rights, key populations face growing emergencies in certain parts of the world.

HIV emergencies may result from a lack of sustained access to key health and social protection services. Such emergencies do indeed occur during times of war and civil unrest. However, they also occur on a regular basis in countries where there is poor state planning and/or procurement that result in persistent scarce ARVs relative to the size of the need, or recurring stockouts.

HIV emergencies can also result in states with limited democratic structures, where opposition is suppressed and the media controlled, or where there are limited civil and political liberties. Such situations can lead to country level violence. However, they also place a particular burden on key populations, e.g., in states where we currently see a growth in legislation that criminalises key populations that further undermines their civil liberties and access to healthcare.

I look forward to a discussion of HIV in emergencies that grapples with relatively sudden large-scale natural and human disasters. However, I sincerely hope we will also address those emergency contexts where key populations experience expanding attacks on their human rights, including from their own governments and justice systems, as well as a mushroominglack of sustained access to HIV services.

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