Feature story

HIV and conflict: Connections and the need for universal access

27 October 2010

A Forced Migration Review special supplement

Kibati camp for displaced people, DRC. Credit: Christian Als

The interconnections between conflict and HIV are complex. HIV affects the lives of many people caught up in conflict, including the civilian population but also the protagonists, as well as those whose role it is to provide security during and after conflict.

In conflict, people may be subjected to mass displacement and human rights abuses, including sexual violence, or left in conditions of poverty and powerlessness that might force some individuals to sell sex to survive. In addition, infrastructure may be damaged, and prevention and health services disrupted. Such conditions put populations at increased risk of HIV infection, and women and children are especially vulnerable.

A special supplement on HIV has been published by the journal Forced Migration Review, with support from UNAIDS. This edition is largely based on the work of the AIDS, Security and Conflict Initiative (ASCI), which undertook research over a number of years to gather evidence and advance analysis on the connections between HIV and conflict.

Specially tailored programmes to ensure universal access to vulnerable groups must become an integral part of national HIV policies and strategies, and a key item on the agenda of the international community, according to the article by UNAIDS.

The analysis addresses how to achieve greater and better access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for people during and after conflict. It concludes that it is unlikely that Millennium Development Goal 6 will be met without HIV services reaching displaced populations and migrants, regardless of their HIV status, as well as the uniformed services that interact with these populations.

The supplement presents a selection of the ASCI case-studies alongside a number of articles on the subject which were submitted in response to a Forced Migration Review call for articles. UNAIDS and its cosponsors UNFPA and UNHCR as well as various research partners contributed articles. In addition, Dr Nafis Sadik, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific authored a piece on the linkages between forced migration and HIV in Asia.

Download the full publication here