March 1 is Zero Discrimination Day - a time for everyone to stand up for our rights and to speak out on how stigma and discrimination impacts lives all over the world. Today we bring you two examples from ACT!2030 alliances in Uganda and Algeria on how young people are working to fight discrimination and promote sexual and reproductive health and rights and equality for all young people.
by Allen Kyendikuwa
Stigma is a mark of infamy or disgrace to a human being who has an inherent right to dignity and worth. People living with HIV and other chronic illnesses often face stigma and discrimination, and this prevents them from accessing services, earning livelihoods and becoming involved, especially in organizations for people living with chronic illnesses or in high visibility roles. This burden is greater for those who belong to marginalized populations. Rejection by family, friends and the community, and discrimination by health service providers and in workplaces and schools is common. There are regular incidents of violence against people that arise from stigma and discrimination. In many countries, anti-discrimination laws to protect people living with HIV and HIV workplace policies either do not exist or there is a failure to enforce them and In some countries, traditional laws place an extra burden on women and accusations of being the initial carriers of HIV in a marriage.
Last Friday I was supporting an adolescent girl write her C.V because she wanted to apply for a position at her clinic as a peer support leader. Then I asked whether she was comfortable to write that she was a young woman living with HIV, to which she said yes, and to my surprise, I heard a strong squabble that arouse from our back and one of the adolescent boys shouted… I AM NOT GOING TO TYPE THAT! The girl was as perplexed as I was and she adamantly asked why. He told her, what if they threw your papers somewhere and one of your classmates found them? … This blew me back to my senses and I realized how strong of a burden we are carrying.
We must provide resources to train, and engage or employ people living with HIV in self-care, HIV prevention — particularly positive prevention — and in being a knowledgeable participant in personal treatment decisions (treatment literacy); home-based care and community health-care workers in the practicalities and legal and social aspects of HIV and counseling; and in anti-stigma campaigns and ensure that reasonable measures to facilitate employment of people living with HIV are taken.
The Y+ Beauty pageant is an annual event is developed to celebrate Beauty with Zero Discrimination; the essence of pioneering this event is aimed at fighting stigma and discrimination against young people affected and living with HIV and AIDS. (Y+ represents Young people living with HIV). It is held by the Uganda Network of Young People living with HIV/AIDS (a member of the ACT! 2030 Uganda alliance) to re-echo young people’s voices and work together to build a strong, energetic, creative, and productive generation through a purely charitable event. The pageant Ambassador is responsible for spreading the word for zero New Infection, Zero Stigma and discrimination, and Zero stigma related deaths.
Strengthening a positive legal environment to advance universal access to HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services for People Living with HIV in Algeria
by Raouf Kamel
People living with HIV are, to date, considered to be full-fledged patients. This hasn’t been the case at the beginning of the epidemic, on December 1985 in Algeria, when discrimination and stigmatization, under unethical and unworthy aspects of human rights, were the rule. Today, people living with HIV enjoy rights and obligations foreseen and protected by all the Algerian legal texts (especially The Health Law) that civil society looks after their application.
Indeed, the census of the current texts, based on the Algerian normative right and both the conventions and the international commitments ratified by Algeria, constitute an element of reference concerning the enjoyment of the people living with HIV of their rights within the society.
In this context, the main role of the organizations supporting people living with HIV is to make sure that all the stakeholders, among HIV-infected persons and the different institutions, are at the same level of information. Therefore, a national campaign of the community leaders mobilization is run throughout the year to raise awareness on the rights of people living with HIV, to make their voice heard in Post-2015 development agenda and to break down the barrier of stigma and discrimination as per the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
This initiative targeted stakeholders from the community and the institutions that can both influence and make the change to hold them accountable for a better HIV response:
Views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent those of the organizations that support this initiative, nor is the publishing of these blogs an endorsement. This space is provided for youth advocates to freely express their views on issues that affect them and relate to their work.