The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day will be the right to health

Why the right to health?

The universal and inalienable right to health provides everyone with the right to realize the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination or stigma. Only by placing human rights at the centre of global health can we ensure that health care is accessible, acceptable, available and of good quality for everyone, leaving no one behind.

The AIDS epidemic brought the power of the right to health to the world’s attention. The AIDS response is built upon the fundamental right to health and well-being and provides the best example of the global expansion of health services.

The AIDS response leveraged rights, expanded access to life-saving medicines, expanded health systems and increased access to acceptable and quality health and social protection services, without discrimination or coercion. The rights-based approach has also benefitted the wider health movement, including improving services for tuberculosis, hepatitis C, sexual and reproductive health and noncommunicable diseases.

The Sustainable Development Goals, underpinned by human rights, provide a framework to leverage opportunities between the right to health and other rights, including the right to education, equality, non-discrimination, access to justice, privacy and food. Learning from the AIDS response, the World AIDS Day campaign will focus on the right to health, highlighting opportunities to leverage rights-based practices and behaviours to achieve more rapid and sustainable progress towards universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.

We look forward to a highly successful World AIDS Day 2017.