Implementing Inclusive HIV/AIDS Programs

Inclusive HIV/AIDs clinic in Africa
The intersection of HIV/AIDS and disability is an emerging issue in the field of global health.

Many factors contribute to the increased risk that people with disabilities experience for contracting HIV/AIDS, and to the fact that individuals with disabilities who also have HIV/AIDS often lack appropriate information and access to treatment.  In turn, without appropriate teatment, HIV/AIDS can result in secondary disabilities. HIV/AIDS programmers should seek out training and resources to ensure their activities are disability-inclusive.

Utilize the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Article 25 calls for the provision of accessible sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programs, this includes access to HIV/AIDS prevention programs. Understanding the local experience identifies critical factors and how to respond appropriately to local behaviors towards people with disabilities and HIV/AIDS.

8 Factors Increasing Risk of People with Disabilities to HIV/AIDS

  1. Increased risk of sexual violence, rape, and substance abuse
  2. Lack of legal protection and limited access to information means more vulnerability to infection
  3. Discrimination and stigma lead to increased chance of people with disabilities entering into a series of unstable relationships
  4. Misperceptions about sexual activity and likelihood of using drugs or alcohol
  5. Low education and literacy rates due to lack of access to schools
  6. Lack of access to mass media that limit the impact of information outreach
  7. Role of poverty in intensifying the incidence and consequences
  8. Economic, environmental, and social barriers that prevent access to HIV testing, medical care, medication, support services, and resources to facilitate safer sex

Five Key Strategies

  1. Actively include people (especially women) with disabilities in training on sexual negotiation skills, living with HIV/AIDS, and empowerment.
  2. Offer mobile voluntary counseling and treatment services in various areas to mitigate transportation and other access barriers for people with disabilities.
  3. Train staff at health clinics to understand that men and women with disabilities may feel stigmatized and may not feel welcomed in their clinic.
  4. Ensure delivery of medications is accessible to people with different types of disabilities.
  5. Ensure disability issues are part of the training for social workers, health care personnel, and outreach workers in the field, including:
  • Factors increasing vulnerability of people with disabilities to HIV/AIDS
  • The role of poverty in intensifying the incidence and consequences of HIV/AIDS among people with disabilities
  • Links between disability, HIV/AIDS, and gender

We encourage you to explore some of the key external resources related to HIV/AIDS and disability inclusion provided as Documents and Related Links. The resources are provided in their original format. MIUSA strives to ensure external documents are accessible to the greatest extent possible. As the field of HIV/AIDS and disability inclusion is developing rapidly, we also recommend doing web research for new resources.

Be sure to utilize MIUSA’s resource, Making Inclusive Development a Reality: Ten Essential Steps, which has disability inclusion tips relevant across all development sectors. This can be found in the Related Resources.