December 1 marks the 22nd Worlds Aids Day, with the red ribbon worn in support of the 33 million people living with HIV around the world, including 2,5 million children. A hearing in the European Parliament on 30 November on Human rights and Aids showed that HIV infected people face discrimination worldwide and in the EU.
Finnish Green Heidi Hautala, who chairs the human rights Sub-committee told the hearing, "it's about time to look at health and human rights".
Crisis in Sub-Saharian Africa
While Romanian Socialist Corina Cretu, Vice Chair of the Development Committee called for attention to be focused on Sub-Saharian Africa, where 78% of HIV cases occur, as well as on women and children from low income countries, who are infected through sexual abuse, including rape as in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Only by protecting the rights of those living with AIDS will we protect the rights of all,". Henning Mikkelsen, from the UN AIDS Office in Brussels said. Some 79 countries criminalise same-sex relations and 55 countries impose HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay or residence, he said and proposed reforming laws and training police and health-care workers on non-discrimination and confidentiality.
Katherine Todrys a researcher at Human Rights Watch, noted that there also is discrimination against HIV migrants in the EU, for example Slovakia does not give residence permits to people with HIV.
30 million related deaths
Robinson Cabello of the NGO "Via Libre" in Peru said that between January 2008 and July 2009, 200 transgender people were reported murdered worldwide. Two thirds were in Latin America, where the number of people living with HIV is increasing steadily (it grew from 400,000 in 1990 to 1.64 million in 2009). "We can't ask our government to support our cause, as much of the violence is perpetrated by the government."
More than 60 million have been infected since the pandemic started, and almost half of them have died due to the virus. One in four deaths is caused by tuberculosis, a preventable and curable disease.
The biggest population of people living with HIV is in Sub-Saharan Africa (according to the UN - 22.5 million in 2009). But all regions, including the EU, are touched by the pandemic.
2.6 million new infections (down from 3.1 million in 1999)
1.8 million AIDS-related deaths (compared to 2.1 million in 2004)
33 million people were living with HIV (compared to 26.2 million in 1999)
370 000 children were born infected
World AIDS Day observed for the first time in 1988
Aims to use red ribbon symbol to raise awareness