Why is IDDC involved in HIV & AIDS and Disability?
People with disabilities are hardly being included in HIV and AIDS policies and programmes, because it is assumed that they are not at risk of HIV infection. However, people with disabilities are at equal or greater risk of HIV-infection, compared to their non-disabled peers because of several reasons:
People with disabilities often belong to the poorest and most marginalized communities, which is a significant risk factor in susceptibility to HIV.
Poor access to information on sexual and reproductive health and HIV&AIDS
The global literacy rate for adults with disabilities is as low as 3 percent. Low literacy rates as well as poor access to mass-media messages present real challenges for reaching people with disabilities with HIV prevention messages.
Poor access to health care, including HIV&AIDS services
Health clinics are often difficult to access for people with physical disabilities. Health staff often have misconceptions, such as people with disabilities are not sexually active. Or they show negative attitudes or abusive behaviour when confronted with the fact that people with disabilities do actually have sex. As a result people with disabilities are often sent away when they want a HIV test, because they are perceived as not needing to be tested.
Sexual abuse and exploitation
Women and girls with disabilities – living at home or in institutions - are frequently exposed to sexual violence and exploitation because of dependency and inability to report to the police.
In order to achieve universal access to HIV&AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010 and the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, HIV&AIDS policies and programmes need to be made inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities.