There has been very little research done about HIV/AIDS in populations with pre-existing disabilities. Because of social marginalization, and myths about the sexuality of people with disabilities, they are often left out of conversations about sexual and reproductive health. However, people with disabilities may also be a part of other groups highly impacted by HIV (people of color, LGBTQ, women). People with disabilities is an umbrella term for a diverse group of people with a range of experiences. It may include people with depression, autism, people who have cognitive disabilities, people who are blind, and people who use wheelchairs. Disability can be permanent or short-term. Some people age into it or develop it after war, or an accident, and some are born with disabilities. It is important to remember that disability is a spectrum of experiences and people may identify their disabilities and experiences differently.
Disability is not only a health issue or a matter of limitation. While of course, health is a major part of the concern, it is a complex set of interactions between people and their environments. And often those environments and communities are designed to exclude their full participation. Disability reflects the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives (WHO, 2014). Overcoming the difficulties faced by people with disabilities requires interventions to remove environmental and social barriers. Additionally, supporting people with or at risk of HIV who are living with disabilities may include physical access to the organization, but may also include things like brochures and information if formats such as braille, audio or plain text, and sign language access. Additionally, when people with disabilities rely on the support of personal assistants, sign language interpreters or health aides, it is important to discuss all of the options for confidentiality so that they can make the best decisions for themselves about sharing information.