Considerations for a Human Rights Impact Assessment of a Population Wide Treatment for HIV Prevention Intervention

Authors

  • Johanna Hanefeld,

    Corresponding author
    • Address for correspondence: Dr Johanna Hanefeld, Department for Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SH, UK. Johanna.Hanefeld@lshtm.ac.uk.

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  • Virginia Bond,

  • Janet Seeley,

  • Shelley Lees,

  • Nicola Desmond


  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared

Abstract

Increasing attention is being paid to the potential of anti-retroviral treatment (ART) for HIV prevention. The possibility of eliminating HIV from a population through a universal test and treat intervention, where all people within a population are tested for HIV and all positive people immediately initiated on ART, as part of a wider prevention intervention, was first proposed in 2009. Several clinical trials testing this idea are now in inception phase. An intervention which relies on universally testing the entire population for HIV will pose challenges to human rights, including obtaining genuine consent to testing and treatment. It also requires a context in which people can live free from fear of stigma, discrimination and violence, and can access services they require. These challenges are distinct from the field of medical ethics which has traditionally governed clinical trials and focuses primarily on patient researcher relationship. This paper sets out the potential impact of a population wide treatment as prevention intervention on human rights. It identifies five human right principles of particular relevance: participation, accountability, the right to health, non-discrimination and equality, and consent and confidentiality. The paper proposes that explicit attention to human rights can strengthen a treatment as prevention intervention, contribute to mediating likely health systems challenges and offer insights on how to reach all sections of the population.

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