Opening of the Forum of national parliamentarians on the laws, human rights and HIV in DRC, 02 Dec. 2014Dec 2, 2014
-Excellence the President of the National assembly;
-Excellence Mr. President of the Senate;
-Excellence Ms. Minister of Justice;
-Dear honorable members and Senators national;
-Mr. the Executive Secretary of National multisectorial program against AIDS (PNMLS);
-The Representative of UNAIDS;
-Mr. the National executive secretary of Congolese union organizations of people living with HIV (UCOP +);
It is an honor for me to take the floor on the occasion of the opening ceremony of National forum of parliamentarians on laws, human rights and HIV. This is the second forum of this nature in Democratic Republic of Congo, to help reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by thousands of people living with HIV (PLHIV).
The DRC can congratulate itself on the progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has changed from 5% in 1990 to 1.2% in 2012 according to the latest report on the MDGs. However, roughly 500,000 people are still living with HIV. However, the proportion of people infected with HIV/AIDS and subject to antiretroviral treatment remains very low. It was 12.3% in 2011, far from the 60% target. It is also noteworthy that the stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS makes difficult an accurate assessment of the expansion of the epidemic.
Based on this observation, I would like to share with you two important messages.
The first message is the following: laws play an important role in the fight against inequality and exclusion, but also the promotion of the well-being of people living with HIV.
HIV disproportionately affects those in the population who are often the most marginalized and excluded. These may include women and girls; men who have sex with men; injection drug users; and the prisoners.
Our research at the global level, countries whose laws empower the members of marginalized groups, allowing them to access information and interventions for prevention and treatment, tend to have more effective responses against HIV. It also goes without saying that the amendment of an act is a low-cost tool in the fight against AIDS.
That is why, it is very important to acknowledge the commitment of the Minister of Justice and some members who reviewed the law 08/011 of 14 July 2008 on the protection of the rights of people living with HIV to make it more useful to the response.
However, many efforts must still be provided. Indeed, the investigation on the index of stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV from 2012, carried out with UNDP’s support, demonstrates that discrimination is still a very high degree. 50% of people living with HIV who were interviewed had experience for reference, suspension or prohibition of entry into an institution of education because of their HIV status. Legal environment therefore plays an essential role to improve the conditions of life of HIV+ people.
Excellencies, distinguished guests,
The second message is therefore: parliamentarians play a vital role to build coalitions of changes to practices of exclusion and to ensure that services are available to the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.
A strong response to the HIV epidemic requires courageous and committed parliamentarians who will work to:
Mobilize local resources and adopt a budget;
Take decisions concerning the reform of the texts and provisions on HIV that will help advance the response to AIDS.
As parliamentarians, you also have a responsibility to advocate and act for equity leadership, empowerment of women, and fight against sexual violence to reduce the collateral risk associated with HIV infection are women and girls.
Similarly, it must improve access to screening for key populations and vulnerable groups, as well as the accompaniment and support for those infected. This implies that political and budgetary decisions are made accordingly.
Excellencies, distinguished guests,
UNDP supports this second forum of national parliamentarians on the laws, human rights and HIV in the DRC because it reflects our mandate to work towards the eradication of poverty and to reduce inequalities and exclusion that are the basis of the response to the HIV epidemic.
So, I want to confirm that UNDP will make every effort to support the DRC in the promotion of a favorable environment for the protection of human rights in relation to HIV to achieve "zero discrimination linked to HIV, zero new infection and zero death linked to HIV".
Thank you for your attention.