World AIDS Day Address by Honorable Mr. Evans McNeil Rogers, Minister of Health and Social Development

anguillian
By anguillian December 4, 2017 11:29

 

 

 

December 1st is internationally recognized as World AIDS Day – a day that provides the opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.

This year’s theme for WAD focuses on The Right to Health.
The right to health is defined in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This includes the right of everyone, including people living with and affected by HIV, to the prevention and treatment of ill health, to make decisions about one’s own health and to be treated with respect and dignity and without discrimination.

Executive Director of UNAIDS , Michel Sidibé expressed that “All people, regardless of their age, gender, where they live or who they love, have the right to health; no matter what their health needs are, everyone requires health solutions that are available and accessible, free from discrimination and of good quality.”
Nationally within the collective health sector, persons living with HIV (PLWHIV) can exercise their right to attain health care without discrimination or stigma. The HIV response in Anguilla has maintained a rights-based approach to HIV and AIDS and promotes integrated and comprehensive health service provision that includes social support mechanisms. Service integration consists of addressing all relevant aspects of health and health services e.g sexual and reproductive health, such as other, maternal and child health, mental health and noncommunicable disease prevention and control. Therefore PLWHIV not only benefit from care and treatment for the virus, but a holistic approach for all their health care needs.

However, this year’s WAD theme also promotes the need for those who are vulnerable to HIV to reach universal health coverage. Here in Anguilla, youth disproportionately face greater barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services, placing them at higher risk not only for HIV but also for other untoward outcomes such as other STIs and unwanted pregnancy.

According to the Anguilla Global School Health Survey (GSHS) (2016) 55% of sexually active adolescents reported sexual debut before age 14 and only 18.5% of sexually active adolescents reported accessing condoms from traditional public health providers. The dissonance between the age of sexual initiation (before age 15), prevailing legislation on the age of consent (16 years), and the age for independent access to health care (18 years) and a general lack of youth-friendly services, make serious risk reduction interventions among youth difficult due to the lack of access to basic sexual health services.

Local efforts have not yet adequately addressed the sexual and reproductive health needs of our youth which must include successfully engaging the youth and youth advocacy. With this in mind, Ministry of Health and Social Development made a more conscious effort to address this critical gap by creating an invaluable youth platform for public-private partnership with the ACAN youth arm. During 2017, he Ministry ensured that this group benefitted from capacity building interventions to enhance their advocacy role by improving their research and media literacy skills. This also enhanced their communication skills for discussing SRH in various mediums including social media and online blogs. Equipping our youths with the knowledge and tools that they need will help advance a more conscious effort to strengthen the relevance and impact of the youths in the fight against HIV.

This is another step in the right direction and our approaches will continue to link the issues and priorities of the HIV response to ensure the right to health for all and to ensure that no one, including our youth, is left behind.

anguillian
By anguillian December 4, 2017 11:29

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