The uncounted: shifting data in the context of HIV
The offices of frontline HIV/AIDS organisations can sometimes be hard to find
Why do frontline organisations still have to hide, 30 years into the history of AIDS? Their work is essential for the HIV response, but for a number of reasons it is difficult for governments to support openly. The stigma surrounding HIV remains profound, especially for criminalised populations such as sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people and people who inject drugs. For these groups most vulnerable to HIV, whom the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls ‘key populations’, visibility is dangerous.Exposure can lead to the loss of jobs, expulsion and eviction, extortion, arrest, police abuse, even death.
CERAH lecturer Sara L. M. Davis just published an article that draws on recently published data and UN and NGO reports, as well as on personal experience, to explore the tensions around these issues.
Her article explores some of the real-world power dynamics that will shape data-gathering related to the SDG on health. The progressive realisation of the right to health, and the fulfilment of the ambitious SDG 3.3* on health, depends in part on identifying and reaching the marginalised populations most vulnerable to HIV, and on gathering quantitative data to show that a significant percentage of these populations have been ‘covered’ with essential HIV services.
*Goal 3 commits to ‘Ensur[ing] healthy lives and promot[ing] well-being
for all at all ages’, and SDG 3.3 aims to ‘end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis,
malaria, and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases, and other communicable diseases’.