HIV and AIDS epidemic is made worse by punitive laws and stigma which drive vulnerability to infection and block access to life-saving treatment, says Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. The UN Secretary General was speaking at the Caribbean launch of the UNAIDS Lancet Commission’s: Defeating AIDS – Advancing Global Health Report .
“Homophobia threatens both human rights and public health. We cannot tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation nor on the basis of gender identity,” said Moon the UN General Secretary.
“We must also defend the human rights of sex workers and of people who inject drugs,” he said.” Moon continued .
Moon joined Hon Dr. Timothy Harris, CARICOM Lead Head for Human Resources Health and HIV who also spoke at the Lancet Report launch, also expressed similar sentiments .
The St.Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Harris stated that “It is clear that Caribbean countries must continue to confront the issues that are related to the elimination of stigma and discrimination and disentangle them from the misperception that this is a gay agenda. We have to move forward with the engagement of all sectors including parliamentarians, faith leaders, the private sector, youth and civil society The Caribbean has already established some new paths to human rights by
• recognizing the cultural norms of our societies that place emphasis on promoting family values and helping those in need,
• recognizing that the need for a multisectoral approach to behavior change,
• Investing in research to influence evidence based policy
• establishing that the leadership best capable of catalyzing this change must a collective one that ensures the engagement of people living with HIV.
Dr Harris continued “As we grasp the opportunities that beckon us in the post 2015 development era the Caribbean has to focus the conversation on what can the various sectors and partners do to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”
Ban said ending the AIDS epidemic in all places and all communities was essential to realising the vision of a life of dignity for all.
The UN chief said that a quarter of a million people in the Caribbean region lived with HIV with the governments struggling to finance their responses.