We target the underlying inequalities, harmful practices, and failures of leadership that facilitate the spread of HIV.

 

Although international institutions can represent the best of our humanity, they can also fall prey to double-standards and failures of leadership, particularly when it comes to public health and social justice. We focus our advocacy at the top—on those in positions of power and influence—because when they reinforce discriminatory practices and unjust laws, it's not only unfair and wrong, it's counterproductive.

Illegal child “marriage” puts girls in jeopardy, violates their rights as children, and distorts the rest of their lives. Its victims are raped repeatedly and subjected to high-risk pregnancies, life-threatening childbirth complications and heightened exposure to sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. They are denied schooling, liberty, and recreation; deprived of their potential and free will; robbed of their rightful homes; and inducted early into lives of subservient, unpaid work. AIDS-Free World is campaigning to have the International Labour Organization (ILO) recognize girls who are forced into illegal marriages as child labourers.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

If you can't see, you won’t pick up the prevention pamphlet in your doctor’s office. If you can’t hear, you’ll miss the announcements on the radio about testing. If you’re in a wheelchair, you might not make it to the clinic on the third floor. If people assume you don’t have sex, nobody will discuss HIV, AIDS, or condoms with you. We've worked to highlight the link between AIDS and disability and to amplify the voices of disability activists.

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Discrimination and oppression leave women everywhere with less autonomy, less money, and less power. These disadvantages give HIV a firm foothold among women — who account for nearly 60 percent of adults living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa — and contribute to the startlingly high rate of new infections among adolescent girls and young women. They have less mobility to cope with the pressures of prevention and treatment while they bear the brunt of stigma and caretaking duties. Any AIDS response that does not address women’s realities head-on is doomed to fail.

Photo by YakobchukOlena/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by YakobchukOlena/iStock / Getty Images

Laws can provide necessary protections for vulnerable populations and help to bridge the gap for those who live on the margins. But for people living with HIV, the law is too often used to punish instead of protect. Laws that criminalize the transmission, nondisclosure, and exposure of HIV stigmatize and marginalize, eroding the fundamental human rights of people living with HIV. We are proud to join with the HIV Justice Network to speak out against criminalization and push for laws that are rooted in fact, not fear.

shutterstock_369282539.jpg

We know, without a doubt, that ignorance and discrimination have helped AIDS become a worldwide killer. Bigotry is this virus’ best friend. Over the past decade, we’ve challenged homophobic laws in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Belize, helped local organizations document human rights abuses against LGBT persons, conducted training sessions for law enforcement officials and worked to shine a spotlight on the issue of LGBT rights in the Caribbean.

 
UN Photo / Staton Winter

UN Photo / Staton Winter

Unchecked sexual violence at every level, from intimate partner abuse behind closed doors to calculated public humiliation, is both a reflection of and a catalyst for the destructive power dynamics that govern human relationships and help HIV do its deadly work. 

At AIDS-Free World, we are particularly focused on ending impunity for sexual violence, whether it takes the form of a widespread campaign of politically-motivated rape in Zimbabwe or the abuse of vulnerable women and children by peacekeepers who were sent to protect them. 

Photo by stockdevil/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by stockdevil/iStock / Getty Images

Tuberculosis is the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killing almost 2 million people each year. TB is also the leading cause of death for people living with AIDS. It is airborne, found in every country in the world — and entirely curable. Yet TB rages on, in part due to disastrously low funding, restricted access to essential medicines, negligence on the part of governments, and absent international leadership. We collaborate with TB activists to press for more urgent and effective responses to TB worldwide.