Persons living with a disability experience all of the risk factors associated with HIV infection. In fact, they may be at increased risk because of additional vulnerabilities such as poverty, limited access to education and health care, lack of information and resources to facilitate 'safer sex,' lack of legal protection, increased risk of violence and rape etc. ICAD has been involved in HIV, AIDS and disability issues since 2003 when we first developed a series of factsheets on HIV as an episodic disability in the workplace. The factsheets targeted PHAs and organizations wishing to integrate HIV and AIDS into their human resource and other policies. The program was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and included an environmental scan and the hosting of approximately 20 workshops across Canada.
Our ongoing work in the area has included a 2008 factsheet on HIV/AIDS and Disability which demonstrates the links between disability and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and describes a number of groundbreaking programming initiatives which are emerging in Africa and Asia.
In June 2008, along with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR), ICAD co-hosted a day-long workshop on the links between HIV/AIDS, disability and human rights. Through presentations and discussion sessions, participants explored such questions as:
- How can HIV and AIDS be considered disabilities? How can programs and services for people living with HIV take disability issues into account?
- How can programs and services for people with (other) disabilities incorporate HIV issues?
- What protection does Canadian law provide against discrimination based on HIV or other disability? What can you do if you experience discrimination?
- How can community organizations support people in challenging discrimination?Can the new UN Disability Convention be a tool for protecting and advancing the rights of people living with HIV?