HIV: What solutions for vulnerable populations?

date Published on 01/06/2022

The non-involvement of vulnerable populations in HIV/AIDS programmes is a reality in West and Central Africa. Many do not have access to antiretroviral treatment. This is due to a number of factors: weak or almost non-existent public policies towards this segment of the population, stigmatisation, non-availability of health care in certain conflict zones, among others. All these problems have prompted the Civil Society Institute for Health in West and Central Africa to raise its voice to be heard by decision-makers and donors. Meeting in Praia, these actors believe that the situation needs to be rectified. It is a question of public health and respect for human rights.

First of all, for these civil society actors, there is a need for a better understanding of these issues in order to adapt the response. This means addressing the political, legal, security and socio-cultural factors in the region, improving the collection, analysis and use of data for more effective programmes, and having programme models that meet the needs of the populations most at risk in different contexts. This reinforces the solutions and recommendations made by the technical experts at the end of the meeting held in Praia in March 2022. The head of advocacy at Coalition Plus advocates the elimination of concepts that get in the way and the adoption of appropriate terminology. According to him, the region must learn from the lessons of the past and further popularise scientific advances that must be agreed upon. To this end, the involvement of actors at the community level and the definition of practical modalities of cooperation with the media are important in order to deconstruct discourses that expose vulnerable populations. 

The programme director of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins University advocates for increased community safety during data collection. The availability of data will help refine solutions for vulnerable populations. Young people will not be left behind. Technical and financial partners are called upon to facilitate their care. However, these civil society actors did not fail to emphasise the responsibility of the various States for achieving the objectives set. On Wednesday1 June 2022, they will be looking at the most appropriate solutions for better care for vulnerable populations in programmes to combat HIV in West and Central Africa. The aim is to build health ecosystems that work for all, to develop new partnerships between the government and community sectors for vulnerable populations and those forgotten in the response to HIV.