28 February 2014 - This year, for the first time, 1 March will be a moment to celebrate diversity and recognize that every person counts. HIV responses should leave no one behind.
UNAIDS launched its Zero Discrimination Campaign on World AIDS Day in December 2013, which picks up momentum with a Zero Discrimination Day on 1 March 2014. UNAIDS chose the butterfly as its transformative symbol. Calling for a transformation to achieve zero discrimination is no small task as it is often deeply rooted, yet ending discrimination will be the game changing factor in the journey towards ending AIDS by 2030.
UNODC has long called for greater attention to the HIV plight of key populations and more precisely to the stigma and discrimination they face every day. People who use drugs and people in prisons face stigma and discrimination in various forms starting from systematic denial of access to basic health services to physical and mental abuse. The stigma and discrimination that they face is often in essence the way the general community views and values them; it comes from their peers, family members, neighbours and from health service providers.
"Eliminating discrimination is the one step that can enable the world to achieve the UN General Assembly's 2011 target of a 50 per cent reduction of HIV infection among people who use drugs by 2015," said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. "Take that step, say yes to #zerodiscrimination, commit, transform and let's reach the target."
Discrimination is often prejudicial to the extent that broad disparities in access to evidence-based HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services exist between key populations, and the rest of a community. It even impacts the way resources are attributed to HIV prevention and treatment programmes, the way programmes and policies are developed and the overall health outcomes of people who use drugs and people in prisons settings.
Responding to HIV by implementing evidence-based interventions for people who use drugs and people in prisons requires everyone to face discrimination head-on. Discrimination is a violation of human rights. It is illegal, immoral and dehumanizing. To overcome discrimination and the associated challenges we need leadership at the individual, societal and political levels.