The vision for inclusive SRHR services has come a long way over a period of time dedicated to advocacy, policies, and campaigns. Objectives have been achieved and statistics show the milestones covered by indicators. However, there are sections of the population that need more work to be done to elevate the inclusivity of SRHR for all. This is summed up in the words ‘key populations’.
To answer the question, ‘what is a key population?’; Key populations are the general LGBT community, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, sex workers (including MSWs) and prisoners. Globally, they face much higher risks of HIV/AIDS than the general population. The UNAIDS estimated that between 40-50% of all new HIV infections occur between individuals in key populations and their immediate partners. Underreporting is, however, common within key populations due to widespread stigma and discrimination. This makes it difficult to track the statistics of prevalence and improvement.
In the words of Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State (AIDS 2012), “If we’re going to beat AIDS, we can’t afford to avoid sensitive conversations, and we can’t fail to reach the people who are at the highest risk (read, key population). Few countries provide prevention services to these groups, and some take actions that, far from discouraging risky behavior, drive people into the shadows”(by stigmatization). The need for inclusive SRHR services for the key population is a tactical approach towards combating HIV/AIDS conclusively in a society where the right to lead a healthy and fulfilling life is universal and constitutional, but not accessible for all due to these forms of discrimination. Statistics show that the key population much more likely to become infected by HIV while only 8% of them have access to HIV services which is a far cry from the expected service delivery. In many countries, there are laws, regulations or policies in place that diminish access to health and legal services for key populations at higher risk. As a result, human rights get disrespected and violated.
These populations have many connections to the general population, including sexual and drug-injecting relationships which act to bridge HIV transmission between key populations and members of the general population. This translates that making the SRHR services able to cater for key populations is a joint fight against new infections through these mutual relationships and concurrent sexual partner transmissions. Interventions have been put in place to implement this since the prioritization of key populations in Kenya National AIDS Strategic Plan III, but they need to be stepped up through the respective organizations in order to expand interventions to unreached locations and improve the existing programs to meet unmet needs and ensure that all members of key populations are able to access a full range of services in their area and Without these key population-focused services through rights-based approaches such as LINKAGES, the vision of a world free from HIV and AIDS cannot be achieved.
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