The intersection of disability and HIV in eastern and southern Africa
This chapter comprises four sections, namely: the interrelationship between disability and HIV as a long-wave event; activism and research on HIV and disability; responding to HIV and disability within the National Strategic Frameworks in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA); and finally, preparation for the long wave event. The first section, the interrelationship between disability and HIV as a long-wave event, explores the overlaps of disability related to HIV or ART, the chronicity of HIV that impacts the region of ESA as well as people with disabilities (PWD) being increased risk of exposure to HIV. The author argues that even though research suggests that there is a strong link between HIV and disability, there is very little research available to unpack this unusual close relationship. The second section, activism and research on HIV and disability, highlights the dissonance between developments in resource rich settings – where the response to HIV and disability was driven by HIV advocates and researchers, focusing on HIV-related disability – in contrast to the ESA region, where the issue was first raised by disabled people’s organizations and nongovernmental organizations. A timeline of relevant events on disability and HIV for ESA from 2004 through 2012 is also provided. The third section, responding to HIV and disability within National Strategic Frameworks in ESA, explains that most National Strategic Plans (NSP) in ESA recognized that HIV affects subgroups in different ways, yet only a few of the countries specifically identified PWD as one of these vulnerable groups. Finally, the fourth section, preparation for the long wave event, refers to documents that will assist countries to include disability within HIV programming. Reference is made to the disability-inclusive framework that was developed, based on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the HEARD review, which has now become an advocacy and training tool to advocate for the inclusion of disability within HIV programming. The CRPD principles and the development of NSP are crucial tools to foster disability-inclusive HIV programming as the one provides simple principles of disability, and the other, the mechanism to include disability within HIV programming.