Statements and Webcast
Global Network of People Living with HIV
H.E. Ms. Silvia Petreti (United Kingdom)
10 June 2011
SILVIA PETRETTI, Global Network of People Living with HIV, said people living with HIV must be at the centre of the AIDS response. When the draft declaration was released, she wondered: “are you truly listening to us?” She was concerned, after hearing women with HIV calling for recognition “as women”, that the only target in the text relating to women had to do with mother-to-child transmission. “We don’t have value just as baby makers”, she said. “Our rights must be promoted and uplifted at every stage, whether we have children or not.” Every woman had discussed how gender-based violence was a cause and consequence of HIV, an issue which affected her. The text needed concrete, numeric targets and investment in that area.
She said she also was concerned at the absence of a target for key populations like transgender people, and at the disappearance of a housing provision as a priority intervention. How could collective work to reverse the epidemic be carried out when essential rights had not been met? The involvement of persons with HIV made sense for various reasons, not least of which had to do with history. All civil rights movements had placed the people affected at the core. On a legal level, States were bound by the Declaration of Human Rights to uphold rights that provided for the freedom from degrading treatment, to have a family and to have access to information. Sadly, many of those rights were being denied to people living with HIV, even in so-called “developed Europe”.
“We need more than medication to live with dignity and safety,” she said. “We need your acknowledgement.” It was better for States to have people living with HIV on their side rather than against them. It made economic sense to work together in the current era of limited resources. Further, the voice and visibility of people living with HIV must be strengthened. There also was a health reason to involve them: HIV had not just damaged bodies; it had deepened existing wounds in communities caused by stigma and discrimination. “We all need to heal together,” she declared.