Put human rights at heart of HIV programming and advocacy

A new human rights monitoring and response system aims to improve public health outcomes for the millions of people affected by HIV who are denied their human rights, and are experiencing ill health, isolation, abuse and financial insecurity as a consequence.

REAct (which stands for Rights, Evidence, Action) is a community-based system set up to monitor and respond to human rights-related barriers to HIV and health services.

Collecting human rights data

REAct has been developed to allow community-based and civil society organisations who are working with people at higher risk of HIV to document their experiences of accessing state-run HIV and sexual and reproductive health services.

Enrique Restoy, Senior Advisor on HIV and human rights, and co-designer of the REAct system, explains:

“All the evidence shows that punitive laws, discriminatory and brutal policing and denial of access to justice for people with and at risk of acquiring HIV only serve to hinder people from accessing prevention tools and treatment.
“We know that when human rights are placed at the core of national HIV programmes that positive public health outcomes can be achieved, such as a greater number of people testing for HIV, more people coming forward for HIV treatment and care services and generally people discussing HIV more openly in their communities.”

What human rights data looks like

Right now REAct is being used in Uganda by our implementing partners under the SHARP programme (Sexual Health and Rights); Sexual Monitories Uganda (SMUG), Spectrum and Icebreakers Uganda, and in Myanmar as part of the LINK UP programme (sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people most affected by HIV).

Trained REAct implementers gather individual case information from their clients on the specific issues they face – from police abuse to inequitable health care, from gender based violence to denial of property rights, from prejudiced media coverage to discriminatory employment practices.

Once this information is logged within REAct, it is analysed to:

  • improve the local crisis response to individual emergencies
  • inform ‘what works’ in delivering quality human rights-based services 
  • provide evidence for national and global advocacy efforts.

One LGBT activist in Uganda who has been trained to use REAct said:

“We have used monitoring systems before, but this is exciting and different. With REAct, we are already providing direct responses to our members and presenting our data and our work in a systematic way, which will help us sustain our work in the longer run.”

The Alliance is introducing REAct in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe later this year. Discussions are already underway with our partners in Senegal, South Africa, Botswana and Burundi, as well as in the Middle East and North Africa Region next year.

Find out more about how to adopt a human rights approach to HIV programming.

To learn more about REAct, email react@aidsalliance.org