Being your brother and sister’s keeper: Preventing HIV and AIDS for people with disabilities

| November 27, 2017

Download this story

Our Farmer stories this week focus on HIV and AIDS, and our Script of the week looks at preventing HIV and AIDS in people with disabilities.

HIV and AIDS are growing problems among people with disabilities. Research indicates that people with disabilities are at equal or greater risk of HIV infection than non-disabled people. People with disabilities are highly vulnerable to sexual violence, and lack access to information, prevention, or treatment and care.

Individuals with disabilities experience three major human rights abuses that increase their risk of becoming infected with HIV:

1. Higher risk of violence and lack of legal protection. People with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence because many lack the ability to defend themselves. With little access to police or legal counsel in some countries, they don’t know where to turn if they are victimized. They also have less access to medical care or services such as psychosocial counseling.

2. Lack of education. Children who have disabilities are often shut out of education, including education about sexual health. The World Bank estimates that as many as 97% of individuals across the world with disabilities, and 99% of women with disabilities, are illiterate. Without education on sexual health, an individual won’t know how HIV is contracted or what to do if they have been infected.

3. Lack of sexual health information. In general, it is assumed that people with disabilities are not sexually active. In fact, they are just as likely to be sexually active as people without disabilities. But they are less likely to have access to information about HIV prevention or access to preventative methods such as condoms.

This script highlights the role of the broader community and of educational institutions in helping people living with disabilities to access information on HIV and AIDS and to protect each other from abuse. It also encourages people with disabilities to participate fully in the fight against HIV.

If you use this script as research material or as inspiration for creating your own program on this or similar issues in your own area, you could interview activists, people with disabilities, government officials who deal with HIV and AIDS, and people with disabilities who live in institutions.

You might consider researching and broadcasting a series of programs on this topic. Related topics might include:

  • what the law says about people with disabilities and HIV and AIDS,
  • preventive and security measures for people with disabilities on abuse and HIV, and
  • how people with disabilities can fight HIV within their support groups.