HIV Sensitive Social Protection: Evidence and Way Forward

23 Aug 2011

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Date: 23 August, 2011

Venue: New Delhi

The event organized by UNDP in partnership with NACO will showcase knowledge products on social protection measures and coping strategies for people affected by HIV. In particular, it will highlight findings from the new study HIV Sensitive Social Protection- A Four State Utilization Study.

As per the NACO-UNDP-NCAER study on Socio-economic impact of HIV in India (2006), the most visible impact of HIV/AIDS at the household level is the financial burden on families of the infected persons. Loss of life and decreased human capacities due to HIV related illness and death has worsened the economic condition of households especially those with fewer resources, thereby contributing to poverty and inequality. HIV households cope through reduced consumption on essential items including food, borrowing from moneylenders, extended hours of work by women and children or a complete dependence on other family members or NGOs with the impact being worse on HIV widow households.
HIV widow households are economically worse off than other HIV households with lower incomes, poorer living conditions, fewer amenities at home with higher borrowings or asset liquidation. 90% of the respondent HIV widows were forced to leave their marital homes, 79% denied a share in their husband’s property, 1.8% whose property was taken away and 43% living alone.

There is a clear need to safeguard these individuals and households against declining standards of living, livelihood deprivation and shocks. National AIDS responses are seen to be more successful when they have moved beyond addressing HIV as only a health concern, and involve a wider range of sectors and stakeholders. There is growing evidence that social protection can help reduce a person’s vulnerability. Social protection is a mix of policies and programmes that meet the needs and uphold the rights of the most vulnerable and the excluded. It helps individuals, households, and communities to better manage risks and participate actively in all spheres of life. In its comprehensive form, social protection measures include access to nutrition, health care, housing, education and so on.

In the HIV context, social protection reduces the possibility of an individual becoming infected with HIV, the likely damage HIV can wreak on individuals, households and communities and enhances the efforts to expand universal access to the most hard to reach. Social protection measures become HIV sensitive when they are inclusive of people who are either at risk of HIV infection or susceptible to the consequences of HIV and AIDS. Many states in India have a strong record on social protection schemes and some states in the recent past have intensified their efforts. In the light of the strategic importance of social protection to mitigate the impact on people living with HIV as well as to reduce the vulnerabilities of people to infection, NACO works closely with government departments to identify and advocate for amendment/adaptation of policies and schemes for social protection of marginalized groups.

This has given direction to the efforts of the various sectors in ensuring social protection for the marginalized groups. Apart from government endeavor, the civil society and the private sector have also pooled in their efforts towards extending social protection to people infected and affected by HIV. Given its increasing importance in expanding universal access and for mitigating the impact on people and families affected by HIV, social protection has emerged as a key strategy in AIDS responses. UNAIDS in its 2009-2011 Outcome Framework lists social protection for people impacted by HIV as one of the priority areas and cross-cutting strategies. UNDP supports NACO forge multi-sectoral collaboration with government ministries and the civil society through technical support at the central and state levels. Together, they have advocated for modification of existing polices and schemes, pro-active inclusion of PLHIV in the new ones (HIV-sensitive), and formulation of HIV-specific social protection policies and schemes wherever possible without compromising the confidentiality of PLHIV. UNDP India has undertaken evidence-based advocacy together with positive networks, NACO and its state offices for inclusive policies/programmes.

UNDP has commissioned a number of papers on topics related to social protection measures and coping strategies for people living with and affected by HIV. In this context, UNDP is organizing a dissemination of its knowledge products and plenary discussion on 23rd August 2011 on HIV-sensitive social protection with particular focus on impact mitigation. Besides strengthening the on ground evidence and understanding of HIV-sensitive social protection, the consultation will arrive at comprehensive approach to HIV-sensitive social protection for impact mitigation for households impacted by AIDS and for key populations at risk to HIV. It will bring together leading experts of social protection and HIV, academia, PLHIV and community led networks with participation from governments, civil society, UN and other stakeholders.

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