The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) role under the Government's Achieving Universal Access HIV strategy is primarily focused on advocacy and lobbying to support the strategy's aims. Our work is targeted towards those countries in which issues of gender inequality, stigma and discrimination are stopping people from taking up preventive services and testing, disclosing their status, and seeking treatment and care.
In Cameroon, we have been fighting institutionalised and societal stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS through a project called “Rights of AIDS Sufferers”, run in the North-West region. It has encouraged employers and socio-cultural groups to adopt specific policies that protect the rights of HIV-infected workers. The work of the project was reported nationally on TV and in the print media.
Our embassy in Moscow is supporting an Oxfam project aimed at improving access and quality of health care for poor and marginalized groups, including those suffering from HIV and AIDS. The project strengthens the role of a coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in holding the Government accountable for access to and quality of health care. The two-year project covers seven regions of Russia. Some of the interim outcomes include an increased awareness by citizens of their rights and the involvement of NGOs in helping to draft regional legislation on accessible health care, with the NGO focusing on the poor and vulnerable.
HIV is a global issue and the FCO also works multilaterally for global leadership and effective funding for HIV prevention, treatment and care, including in the countries listed. The UK works on the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board to push for improved human rights for at-risk communities and vulnerable people. For example, in November, the UK worked successfully with the Eastern Europe Constituency and others to protect financial resources for a HIV/AIDS prevention programme in Russia, targeted at high risk groups.
In addition to our multilateral work, our Posts have been active in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia, although no specific activities have been undertaken under the Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire or Thailand.
Thailand has been recognised as a visionary leader in the AIDS response, and our embassy in Bangkok is currently reassessing what action it might take, under the strategy, to support the Thai Government's efforts.