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Enabling inclusion: challenges and successes in addressing the exclusion of women with disabilities from HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment services
Presented by Myroslava Tataryn, United States.
M. Tataryn, S. Shome
AIDS-Free World, Gloucester, United States
Issues: AIDS service organizations (ASOs) often erroneously assume that disabled women are non-sexual, and thus exclude them from AIDS prevention and outreach efforts. Organizations of disabled women in Africa report that local ASOs are not physically accessible, they do not provide information in Braille or sign language. Due to these physical barriers in addition to the countless ways that societal stigma excludes disabled women from mainstream AIDS education initiatives, disabled women are often uninformed of HIV prevention, testing and treatment. We have found that with explicit efforts to connect women with disabilities with HIV/AIDS education and services, significant inroads are made into the discrimination and stigma faced by women with disabilities affected or at risk of HIV/AIDS.
Description: In Uganda, we have found examples of the successful inclusion of women with disabilities in mainstream HIV/AIDS services when ASOs work closely with Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs) to address existing stigma and physical barriers preventing access to services.
1. Explicit (vs implied) effort to connect women with disabilities to existing AIDS services increases the number of people using these services as well as decreasing AIDS related and disability related stigma.
2. DPOs at local and national levels recognize the need to address HIV/AIDS issues amongst their membership but the success of initiatives is limited by lack of capacity and lack of recognition by the broader AIDS community.
3. ASOs are interested in incorporating disability issues but there is a lack of capacity and funds to implement targeted initiatives.
1. Advocating for the recognition of disabled women as a “marginalized group” in mainstream AIDS discourse.
2. Publicizing success stories to provide models for other organizations internationally.
3. Lobbying for funding for ASOs implementing projects aimed at integrating disability issues into their work as well as DPOs implementing sustainable HIV/AIDS programs for their members.