The International Declaration on Poverty, Housing Instability and HIV/AIDS

Part of the "More Than Just a Roof Over My Head" Booklet

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of him [or her] self and of his [or her] family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his [or her] control.

-- Article 25, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Whereas adequate and secure housing has long been recognized as a basic human right,

Whereas growing empirical evidence shows that the socioeconomic circumstances of individuals and groups are equally or even more important to health status than medical care and personal health behaviors,

Whereas in the case of HIV/AIDS, the link between poverty and disparities in HIV risk and health outcomes is well established, and new research findings demonstrate the direct relationship between inadequate housing and greater risk of HIV infection, poor health outcomes and early death,

Whereas poor living conditions, including overcrowding and in extreme cases, homelessness, undermine safety, privacy and efforts to promote self-respect, human dignity and the attendant responsible sexual behavior,

Whereas the lack of stable housing directly impacts the ability of people living in poverty to reduce HIV risk behaviors and homeless and unstably housed persons are two to six times more likely to use hard drugs, share needles or exchange sex than similar persons with stable housing,

Whereas, in spite of the evidence indicating that adequate housing has a direct positive effect on HIV prevention, treatment and health outcomes, the lack of adequate housing resources has been largely ignored in conferences and policy discussions at the international level, and

Whereas the United Nations, in both its 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, embraced the goal of universal access to comprehensive prevention programs, treatment, care and support by 2010.

Therefore, we hereby demand that policy makers address the lack of adequate housing as a barrier to effective HIV prevention, treatment, and care; and we further demand that all governments fund and develop housing as a response to the AIDS pandemic.