The Regional Director of World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday said that people should not be tested for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) without their consent.
WHO’s director for the Mediterranean Regions Dr Hussain Gezairy said that people who are HIV positive should have access to health services.
In an annual message on World AIDS Day, Gezairy told The Express Tribune that an approach based on human rights is the only way to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care.
He said that efforts must be doubled in order to challenge and change policies that breach an individual’s right to life who is at a risk of HIV.
Gezairy said that it is the core value of WHO’s constitution to provide every human being the highest attainable level of health. He said that they [WHO] as an in charge of the population’s health cannot tolerate the denial of healthcare standards.
The regional director said that efforts and resources which were invested to expand the health sector to curb the HIV outbreak in the region, have yielded achievement in terms of increased access to HIV prevention and care service.
He said that most countries have made efforts to increase access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy.
Between 2008 and 2010, the number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) on ART increased by 55%, and several countries doubled the number of PLHIV receiving ART.
He said, “Since, in our region, most people living with HIV are not aware of the virus contraction, treatment coverage in the region is still the lowest globally.”
Gezairy said that stigma and discrimination against people infected with the HIV virus and those at an increased risk of HIV transmission still exists in the region. He said that these factors remained massive barriers for people who try to reach for prevention and care services.
He said that these obstructions made it difficult to encourage stigmatized population groups to seek and access health services and adhere to health interventions.
Even with non-invasive procedures, some health care workers were refused to care for HIV-infected people.
For this reason, the regional theme for the World AIDS Campaign 2011 was stigma and discrimination in health care settings, asking everyone to reflect on human rights in the context of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care.
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