Elhadj Sy

"..HIV/AIDS has adverse effects on all sectors of society. It is, in fact, the breadth and scope of these effects that make AIDS a threat to human security and a potentially destabilizing force worldwide."

Peter Piot


Human security presumes freedom from want and from fear, as well as access to and control of resources and opportunities. The basic elements of human security include survival, safety, opportunity, dignity, agency and autonomy. These preconditions for human security are essential in reducing vulnerability to HIV infection and its impact. However, gender differences and inequalities affect the extent to which men and women, boys and girls are able to enjoy these basic security needs. Those most deprived of these needs are themselves most highly vulnerable to HIV infection and most disadvantaged in coping with its impact.

In many countries, girls and women face a particular risk of HIV infection because of their economic positions and social status.. Development indicators point their unequal status in literacy, income, and education:


  • The percentage of adults living with HIV/AIDS who are women has been steadily increasing. In 1997, 41% were women; in 2000, 47% were women.
  • AIDS now ranks as one of the leading causes of death among women aged 20-40 in several cities in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and North America.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region of the world in which more women than men are infected with HIV and dying of AIDS. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, however, there are estimated to be 13.3 million women infected compared to 10.9 million men, and 12-13 women become infected for every 10 men.
  • Studies show that women and men become infected with HIV at different ages, with women becoming infected at younger ages than men.

Gender-related inequalities threaten the right to overall good health, an essential aspect of human security, and add to HIV vulnerability.

Economic security and opportunity increase individual and collective capacities for

HIV prevention and care.

The AIDS epidemic presents special challenges to the enjoyment of the right to education.

AIDS threatens food security, which relies on women as the primary agricultural workforce.

Freedom from violence and sexual coercion is essential to both physical security and reduced vulnerability to HIV infection

War and conflict threaten all aspects of human security, and greatly increase vulnerability to HIV/AIDS for all involved.


  1. strengthening civil and political rights to encourage community discussion and advocacy. To tackle the difficult issues related to AIDS will require an environment of non-discrimination and freedom.
  2. building resources and skills of affected communities, facilitating their partnerships with other advocates, and including them in programme planning.
  3. mobilizing all levels and sectors of government to act in unity on the social, economic, and cultural obstacles to preventing HIV/AIDS and mitigating its impact.