Over 36 million people are living with HIV globally. This year, the global community is charged to work in solidarity and shared responsibility to end HIV as a public health threat by 2030.
Although there are different aspects to this, I am particularly concerned about the marginalisation and oppression Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are subjected to in the space of HIV research and interventions. This is evident in the inaccessibility of HIV services for PWDs. Lack of ramps in health facilities, lack of interpreters, lack of information in braille or large font is just the tip of the iceberg when enumerating the marginalisation experienced by PWDs. This is not just a health deprivation issue but clearly a Human rights violation. Persons with Disabilities whose rights are protected by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) are being oppressed. A quick way to show solidarity is to always speak up in words and action about the oppression PWDs face.
On this day, I will make the same call I made last year:
I invite development partners and organizations to plan and ensure for disability inclusion in the HIV continuum of care. Arguably, although we seem to be progressing, our efforts remain limited because of the exclusion of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in HIV programming. In all my years of working in the field of HIV, I was always guilty of not including PWDs in my programming. This is what I hope to atone for through my PhD research on “Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) among Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) living with HIV in Nigeria”.
The fight against HIV will remain stifled if we continue to marginalize PWDs.
This is my call to everyone as we commemorate the WAD 2020