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World AIDS Day 2013
  Monday 2 December 2013
 
Dear ,
 
Did you know that globally the rate of HIV/AIDS infection among people with disability is three times as high as it is among people without disability? This year, Australia also saw a 10% increase in the rate of new diagnoses, the largest increase in 20 years.

Sunday 1 December was World AIDS Day, a day of awareness-raising about the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé recently delivered the World AIDS Day 2013 message and yesterday, PWDA participated in celebrations for World AIDS Day 2013 both in Melbourne and in Sydney.

While the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) both recognise the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, Australia has a long way to go in making these rights a reality.

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, announced this year that the end of HIV/AIDS was in sight. Yet he adds, “[M]ake no mistake, stigma, denial and complacency are still among us, putting us in danger of failing the next generation. We must join our hearts and our voices––together we are stronger.” Working for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS is key to tackling this issue.
 
 
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé gives World AIDS Day 2013 address
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé
 


 
"...make no mistake, stigma, denial and complacency are still among us, putting us in danger of failing the next generation."
- Michel Sidibé
There are many reasons why people with disability experience HIV/AIDS infection at markedly higher rates. These reasons are related to the lack of human rights protections and implementation experienced by people with disability. For example, rights to legal protection, to accessible and relevant sexual education and to relevant health information and care are recognised as rights under the UN CRPD, but Australia frequently fails to implement these rights.

The belief that people with disability are asexual and/or solely heterosexual can also lead to limited or inappropriate sexual information. In addition, the segregation of people with disability, such as those in boarding houses and institutions, means that they frequently are poorly equipped to practice safe sex or safe drug use.
  Co-chief Exceutive Officer, Matthew Bowden presenting at the 8th World Assembly
Co-CEO Matthew Bowden presenting at the
DPI 8th World Assembly in South Africa 2011
 
In 2011, Co-CEO Matthew Bowden presented at the Disabled People’s International (DPI) 8th World Assembly in South Africa, highlighting how the social model of disability is key to ensuring the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. His paper demonstrated a health promotion project providing accessible HIV prevention information to prison inmates with intellectual disability in Australia.  
 
PWDA also has a long history of bringing comprehensive sexual education to those who might struggle to access it otherwise, both through training and representation on the Management Committee of Touching Base Inc. Touching Base is a charitable organisation which connects people with disability with sex workers, promoting safer sex messages in a judgement-free environment.

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is committed to the eradication of stigma, discrimination and marginalisation experienced by those living with HIV/AIDS. Representing the interests and concerns of people living with HIV/AIDS in our advocacy work is a key part of our role, and we believe it is essential to creating a future which is inclusive and just.


Upcoming HIV/AIDS Conferences
Representative Organisations of People Living with HIV/AIDS
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People with Disability Australia (PWDA)
www.pwd.org.au (02) 9370 3100 1800 422 015