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World AIDS Day, 1 December 2009

Background to this year's World AIDS Day theme

The theme for World AIDS Day 2009-2010 is “Universal Access and Human Rights”.

Some opportunities presented by this theme

Why is the theme timely?

2010 will be a milestone for the Millennium Development Goals - encouraging high level review of what has, and has not, been accomplished in the aim to achieve access for all to essential care by 2010.The world’s current economic woes are forcing governments to make some painful decisions. World AIDS Day is an important opportunity to emphasise the critical need for universal access to essential care.

There have already been alarming instances of HIV and AIDS treatment programs being curtailed or shut down due to budgetary restrictions. The theme presents an opportunity to make understood the links between violations of human rights and HIV infection rates. Our message is that access for all to prevention, treatment, care and support is a fundamental human right that is impossible to decouple from the discussion of how we tackle HIV and AIDS now and in the future. In light of the approaching assessment of the Millennium Development Goals, the message that access to treatment for all is essential in how we approach HIV and AIDS globally is completely entwined

This theme offers a good opportunity to highlight the plight of the most stigmatised and marginalised within communities who are often neglected. Rights-based approaches are being strengthened in other campaign areas (e.g. there is a growing focus on the Right to Food) which helps to raise awareness about human rights and its language; and gives more credence to the international agreements related to human rights and their precedence in international law.

The theme and needs of human rights can be powerfully articulated through contextual stories and real life case studies to principles of equality and the value of all human beings.

The human rights approach is comprehensive, tying directly into the response needed for universal access to treatment, prevention, care and support.

Linking Universal Access to Human Rights helps bring the HIV diagnosis and treatment issues into existing fora and before world leaders who are already committed to pursuing a human rights agenda.

South Africa will host the 2010 FIFA World Cup bringing visitors and reporters from across the globe to a country that has been, and continues to be, deeply affected by the AIDS epidemic.

2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This anniversary is a special occasion lending weight to the need to protect the rights of children- including their rights relating to HIV and AIDS.