Table 11: HIV, AIDS and the Rights of Women and Children

Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • Women are denied access to a full range of health services, including reproductive health care, to prevent and mitigate the impact of HIV for themselves and their children.
  • Children are denied access to comprehensive HIV-prevention services and information.
  • Children orphaned or affected by AIDS are withdrawn from school, denied their inheritance, and forced into hazardous situations such as forced labor, begging, and sexual exploitation.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CRC 24(1): States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services. CRC: Recommending that Myanmar “increase its efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs, with an emphasis on prevention among young people, provide protection and support for orphans and vulnerable children, and ensure universal and cost-free access to antiretroviral therapy.” CRC/C/MMR/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012).

CRC: Recommending that Azerbaijan “intensify efforts to provide adolescent s with education on sex and reproductive health, particularly with regard to HIV, and improve the accessibility of contraception.” CRC/C/AZE/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012)

CRC: Recommending to Togo “to increase both the coverage and quality of PMTCT services in order to attain the objective of virtually eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015” and “to reinforce preventive action among youth, targeting teenagers that belong to the most vulnerable groups, and ensure that the necessary budget is allocated to the HIV/AIDs education programme provided in secondary schools.” CRC/C/TGO/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012)

CRC: recommending to Madagascar and Burundi to improve prevention of mother-to-child transmission. CRC/C/MDG/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012); CRC/C/BDI/CO/2 (CRC, 2010)CRC: recommending Panama “undertake steps to reduce the greater risk of HIV/AIDs among indigenous children, including through the provision of culturally sensitive sex education and information on reproductive health, reduce the greater risk of HIV/AIDs among teenagers by providing reproductive health services especially aimed at them and by expanding their access to information on prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, and that it direct programmes at children with HIV/AIDs.” CRC/C/PAN/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011)

CRC: Recommending that Ukraine (a) ensure effective implementation of the national HIV/AIDs programme 2009-2013 and the national strategic action plan for HIV prevention among children and by allocating adequate public funding and resources to these programmes; (b) to take all measures to implement the act on prevention of AIDS and social protection of the population, with special focus on respecting human rights of children and youth affected by HIV/AIDs or at risk of HIV/AIDs, including children in street situations and children suffering from substance abuse, and ensure access to confidential and youth-friendly services; and (c) to intensify information and awareness campaigns on HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases, aimed at adolescents as well as at the general public. CRC/C/UKR/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011).

CRC: recommending Belarus and Guatemala implement youth-friendly HIV testing and counselling. CRC/C/BLR/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011); CRC/C/GTM/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010).

CRC: recommending increasing awareness and education about HIV/AIDs to Sudan CRC/C/SDN/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010); Belarus CRC/C/BLR/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011); Montenegro CRC/C/MNE/CO/1 (CRC, 2010); Angola CRC/C/AGO/CO/2-4 (CRC, 2010); Sri Lanka CRC/C/LKA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010); Burundi CRC/C/BDI/CO/2 (CRC, 2010); Grenada CRC/C/GRD/CO/2 (CRC, 2010); Nigeria CRC/C/NGA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010); Japan CRC/C/JPN/CO/3 (CRC, 2010); Cameroon CRC/C/CMR/CO/2 (CRC, 2010); El Salvador CRC/C/SLV/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010); etc.

CEDAW 12(1): States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

CEDAW 12(2): Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

CEDAW Committee: Explaining to Zambia that the “Committee is concerned about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and especially own young girls who are raped due to the belief that intercourse with a virgin cures the infection. In this respect, the Committee is concerned that women and girls may be particularly susceptible to infection owing to gender-specific norms and that the persistence of unequal power relations between women and men and the inferior status of women and girls may hamper their ability to negotiate safe sexual practices, thereby increasing their vulnerability to infection.” CEDAW/C/ZMB/CO/5-6 (CEDAW, 2011).

CEDAW Committee: Recommending that Russia “address gender aspects of HIV/AIDS, including power differential between women and men, which often prevents women from insisting on safe and responsible sex practices.” A/57/38(SUPP) (CEDAW, 2002)

CEDAW Committee: Explaining to Zambia that the “Committee is concerned about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and especially own young girls who are raped due to the belief that intercourse with a virgin cures the infection. In this respect, the Committee is concerned that women and girls may be particularly susceptible to infection owing to gender-specific norms and that the persistence of unequal power relations between women and men and the inferior status of women and girls may hamper their ability to negotiate safe sexual practices, thereby increasing their vulnerability to infection.” CEDAW/C/ZMB/CO/5-6 (CEDAW, 2011).

CEDAW Committee: Recommending that Russia “address gender aspects of HIV/AIDS, including power differential between women and men, which often prevents women from insisting on safe and responsible sex practices.” A/57/38(SUPP) (CEDAW, 2002).

ICESCR 2(2): The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the right enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to . . . sex . . . .

ICESCR 3: The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the present Covenant.

CESRC: Recommending that Kenya ensure that “pregnant women with HIV/AIDS are not refused treatment, segregated in separate hospital wards, forced to undergo HIV/AIDS testing, and discriminated or abused by health workers, and that they are informed about and have free access to antiretroviral medication during pregnancy, labour and after birth, including for their children.” E/C.12/KEN/CO/1 (CESCR, 2008).

CESCR: Noting with concern that children and orphans affected by HIV/AIDS in Kenya are not adequately supported by the State party and that the care for these children and the task of monitoring their school attendance is frequently delegated to their extended families and to community and faith-based organizations, without adequate support and supervision from the State party. E/C.12/KEN/CO/1 (CESCR, 2008)