International AIDS Society

HIV/AIDS and Human Rights

At the high-level address to the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in February 2013, UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, “stressed that the AIDS response has paved the way for transformative progress across a broad range of rights, providing the engine for achieving the development goals.” Sibde illuminated that  ‘critical lessons learned from the response to AIDS can help to ensure that the post-2015 development agenda puts human rights at its very center.’ These lessons include promoting inclusion and participation; providing resources and political space for civil society to drive social change from within; and ensuring attention to the most marginalized.”1

Despite recent technological advances in treatment and prevention, HIV stakeholders acknowledge that some other aspects of HIV have not been properly addressed and impede the achievement of goals set out in the UNGASS Declaration and in the campaign for universal access. Human rights violations and abuses and subsequent stigma and discrimination, appear as some of the principal obstacles keeping the world from a comprehensive AIDS response. 

At the heart of the health systems, HIV professionals can play a critical role in contributing to make the access to health services a reality for all in need. In an enabling and protective environment, they can fight against and mitigate the impact of abuses and stigma faced by People Living with HIV and people who are assumed to be at risk of infection because of behaviors, sexual orientation and other stigmatized social characteristics2.

Besides, HIV professionals involved in health service delivery, activists, programme implementers and decision makers at international or government ministry levels engaged in the response to HIV/AIDS continue to experience abuses and violations. Rarely commented, they indeed have a negative impact on the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

As the largest association of HIV professionals, the IAS is committed to educate HIV professionals about the equal rights of all people to receive the highest standard of care including marginalized and key affected populations. In addition, the IAS believes that the protection and respect of the HIV professionals' human rights has to be adequately addressed in order to build an efficient health system capable of providing the optimal available standard of care to a growing population of people who need it.

Human Rights abuses and violations

International HIV experts widely recognize that human rights violations directed toward people living with and affected by HIV are fueling the epidemic. Numerous studies have identified stigma as a key barrier to HIV testing and counseling, sero-status disclosure, prevention of mother-to-child transmission services and timely entry into care, all of which have potentially devastating consequences on the health and wellbeing of individuals and the public. Yet, action to reduce stigma and discrimination on the scale needed to curb the pandemic is lacking.

Leadership and vision are needed to ensure that efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination are priorities on the agendas of donors and implementers alike.

A solid foundation for global action exists. We know a great deal about the causes of stigma and discrimination, how to address these causes and how to measure the effectiveness of stigma-reduction interventions over time. Research, programming, advocacy and donor efforts have led to pilot interventions that are reducing stigma and discrimination around the world.



News and articles


Human Rights and HIV Professionals


HIV and Codes of Best Practices


HIV and Human Rights Related Commitments


Stigma and Discrimination (Health Care, Workplace, Justice, Education, Community)


Violence (Sexual violence and Gender-Based Violence)


Sex trafficking


HIV-related criminalization


HIV-related travel restrictions


Human Rights and Key Affected Populations (Men who have sex with men, Sex workers, Transgender People, and People who use drugs)


People living with disabilities & People living with mental illness


Women & Children


Forced sterilization of women, transgender and intersex people


Forced detention of drug users


Denial or lack of access to essential pain relief medicines


Campaigns, Projects and Programmes


Publications and Documents