At the opening of the Human Rights Zone at the community village at ICASA in Cape Town, Justice Edwin Cameron spoke about the need to put human rights at the centre of the HIV response, especially in terms of most at risk populations. The human rights zone is a space at ICASA for critical discourse around human rights in terms of the pandemic in Africa; in this spirit the zone hosts sessions addressing a diverse number of issues, ranging from sex work, transgender, LGBTI, etc. In order to address the vulnerability of most at risk populations, it is clear that stigma, discrimination, and violence needs to be addressed.
Without human rights, the HIV response will always be lacking, as it will just be addressing the symptoms of a broader problem in society; a problem of inequality, of persisting gender based violence, of persisting stigma towards all those who do not conform to societal norms. For transgender people this is especially relevant and necessary. Transgender persons are facing stigma based upon their gender expression and idencity, leading to violence which exponentially aggravates their vulnerability to HIV, and concurrently limits their access to sservices. It’s essential that a human rights based approach is taken when dealing with HIV and most at risk populations.