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International Community Must Advance Human Rights By Ensuring Access To Health Programs For Most Vulnerable

“No entire country, or entire population, is at the same risk of contracting infectious diseases. Many diseases disproportionately affect the groups of people who get left behind, because they are criminalized and at the margins of society,” Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “By better identifying and locating those at greatest risk of becoming infected because of where they live or who they are, some scientists now argue that we can dramatically improve our ability to control the spread of these diseases,” he notes, adding, “In the case of HIV and tuberculosis, that means reaching those who are most vulnerable: women and girls, sex workers, people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender people, people in prison and migrants.”

“That has big implications for human rights,” Dybul continues, noting, “Since the Global Fund began in 2002, it has been committed to advancing human rights in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria.” He states, “To reach the most vulnerable people, to keep them in health programs once they start, and to make sure they get appropriate services, greater engagement is needed by partners in civil society including community- and faith-based groups that meet people where they are.” He concludes, “We have an historic opportunity to break down the barriers that divide us and come together to bring HIV, TB and malaria under control. We must rise to the challenge of advancing human rights or we cannot advance evidence-based public health” (6/11).