Persons with disabilities are at the same or greater risk of HIV infection as those without disabilities. Due to insufficient access to appropriate HIV education, prevention and support services, persons with disabilities may engage in behaviours which place them at risk of HIV infection.

In addition persons with disabilities, particularly women and girls, are at a higher risk of experiencing sexual assault and abuse, making them vulnerable to HIV infection as well as other sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.

Disability inclusive HIV programs and services must consider physical accessibility of clinics and services, and provision of education and information in accessible formats such as sign language. They may work with Disabled People’s Organisations to assist in disseminating health information to members.

Training for service providers to increase awareness of the particular prevention and support needs for persons with disabilities and to overcome stigmatising attitudes is also crucial. Increasing the participation of persons with disabilities in all components of the HIV response is critical. Resources provided explore the approaches, principles and practices which can support effective disability inclusive HIV programming.

See also: Sexual and Reproductive Health, Accessible Infrastructure and Communications and Participation of Persons with Disabilities

UNAIDS (2017) Disability and HIV

This report highlights existing key evidence on the relationship between disability and HIV. It discusses the concrete steps needed for a person-centred, disability-inclusive HIV response that allows for increased participation of people with disabilities and integrates rehabilitation within the continuum of HIV care. The report outlines good practice examples of disability inclusive HIV programs and includes recommendations for governments, civil society and development partners/donors.

Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development (2008) HIV/AIDS and disability

This paper provides a high level summary of the requirements for effective disability inclusive HIV programming. It is useful as an introduction to the issue and provides brief case studies and examples from Africa and South and South East Asia. It provides recommendations for inclusion of persons with disabilities in HIV/AIDS programs for policy makers and implementers.

CBM Australia (2012) Inclusion made easy: A quick program guide to disability and development – HIV/AIDS Chapter

This chapter, within Part B of the Inclusion made easy manual, gives brief programming guidance for including persons with disabilities in HIV/AIDS programming using a rights based approach. Case studies and helpful checklists and tips for ensuring comprehensive accessibility are provided. The resource is designed for implementing partners, particularly program managers/officers within international development agencies. It is also useful for organisations involved in program design, review, evaluation, and supporting interactions with implementing partners.

UNAIDS, WHO and OHCHR (2011) HIV and disability policy brief

This joint policy brief developed by UNAIDS, World Health Organisation and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides key recommendations for government, international agencies, donors and civil society to both increase the participation of persons with disabilities in the HIV response and to facilitate their access to HIV services. The recommendations focus on a twin track approach. They assist donors and policy makers support the commitments made by States to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and to the achievement of MDG 6 by 2015 by including persons with disabilities.

Hanass- Hancock J (2009) Disability and HIV/AIDS – a systematic review of literature from Africa

This systematic review summarises all existing literature on empirical work that has been undertaken on disability and HIV/AIDS in Africa. The review demonstrates the need for increased education and access to HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment services for persons with disabilities. It highlights existing gaps and suggests areas for further research and investment.

UNICEF (2012) Towards an AIDS free generation: Promoting community-based strategies for and with children and adolescents with disabilities

This report provides specific recommendations for working with children, adolescents and young people with disabilities when designing and implementing HIV/AIDS education, prevention and treatment programs. The report is useful for those designing programs targeted at children and young people as well as those looking for opportunities and entry points for youth friendly and disability inclusive programming within broader HIV/AIDS programs.

International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) (2012) IDDC Policy briefing on HIV/AIDS and disability

This briefing paper provides an introductory overview of the inter-relationship between HIV and disability. It addresses the particular barriers to accessing HIV services experienced by persons with disabilities, and references existing evidence to inform policy and programming.

Humanity & Inclusion Source: Key list resources on inclusive HIV programming

This list contains a number of resources focused on HIV/AIDS and disability inclusion, including policy briefs, manuals and toolkits, and peer reviewed journal articles. It is useful for implementers, funders and government partners.

This resource highlights best practices around the world in HIV/AIDS services, programs and policies for persons with disabilities. It outlines different strategies that are needed for different types of impairment (Deaf / hard of hearing, vision impaired, physical disability, intellectual disability). Each chapter features a case study outlining successful strategies for the delivery of disability inclusive services and describes mechanisms used in the formulation and implementation of relevant policies. Aimed at implementers and advocacy organisations working in the HIV/AIDS and disability inclusive development sectors, it also provides useful examples and strategies for donor agencies looking to support best practice programming.
(Note: The authors state that the number of case studies available were limited, demonstrating the need for further documentation of effective disability inclusive HIV programs).

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Picture of a billboard at a busy market in PNG that reads "Lukautim yu yet long AIDS"

Photo: Siegfried Herrmann, 2004

HIV billboard in Goroka market, Papua New Guinea. The message "Lukautim yu yet long AIDS" translates as "Protect yourself from AIDS" Copyright: CBM/Foto Backofen Mhm