This blog is one of the main ways that the NGO Delegates and the CF Team share information about the work of the Delegation and forthcoming PCB meetings. We encourage you to comment and/or ask questions. The posts are listed in order of most recent. Navigate this page by using the search function or the checklist system on the left to narrow down your search by PCB meeting, theme, or any other tag or key word.

Thematic Intervention: Legal Services for Sex Workers

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

Rathi Ramanathan, NGO Delegate for Asia and the Pacific, supports the Delegation’s recommendation for access to legal services for people to know their rights around HIV.

In many countries sex workers face social marginalization and stigma that are barriers to universal access which are exacerbated by lack of recognition as people before the law thereby prevents them from accessing justice. As a result they face violence, arrest, detention, deportation and ‘raid and rescue’ with no recourse for protection as law enforcement officers.

There is a serious lack of access to legal services for sex workers, in Cambodia a pilot legal service has been set up which focuses on educating and arming sex workers through legal literacy programmes and we ask for more resourcing to scale up and ensure similar services are provided across regions. In line with the NGO report recommendation we would like to encourage the strengthening of legal literacy programmes, specifically increasing funding to NGOs that provide legal aid programmes and support in interpreting law and providing support to people living with HIV.

We thank the Commissions on the Global Commission on HIV and Law for their untiring work and look forward to their recommendations in February.

We also ask PCB Member States, Civil Society and Cosponsors to report once a biennium on progress in implementing the findings and recommendations of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law.

Thematic Intervention: HIV, the Law, and Men who Have Sex with Men

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

George Ayala, NGO Delegate for North America, describes how laws can negatively impact the gay and men who have sex with men communities and offers recommendations in order to enable an environment that affords full health and human rights to all people.

Honorable Member States, members of the UNAIDS Secretariat, Civil Society Observers, and my fellow Delegates to the NGO Delegation of the PCB –

Gay men and other men who have sex with men bear a disproportionate burden of the HIV epidemic in virtually all world regions that reliably collect and report data.  Thirty years into the HIV epidemic, global discourse has begun to discuss “the end of AIDS.” This day will not be possible unless attention, resources, political will are targeted at those populations most-at-risk for HIV.

Around the world a common set of laws and policies have been identified that undermine the HIV response among gay men and other MSM.

First, laws negatively impact on PROVISION and QUALITY of HIV programs for gay men and other MSM in multiple ways. For example:

  • Rejection of applications for legal registration of NGOs focused on LGBT issues, affecting their ability to secure resources and legitimacy.
  • Condoms and HIV education materials are routinely seized as evidence for prosecution
  • Criminal laws against consensual sex between men undermine effective HIV program delivery; hinder the development of effective health policies for gay men and other MSM; and result in the exclusion of gay men and other MSM from decision-making arenas

Secondly, laws used to prosecute gay men and other MSM undermine ACCESS to and UTILIZATION of HIV programs in numerous ways. For example:

  • Criminal prosecution legitimizes high levels of stigma and discrimination against gay men and other MSM, gay trans men, MSM who use drugs and MSM involved in sex work in communities and healthcare settings
  • Violence and other human rights violations against gay men and other MSM are committed with impunity
  • Hostile environments contribute to disproportionately high rates of depression, stress, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide among gay men and other MSM, complicating HIV prevention responses

Thematic Intervention: TRIPS & Access to Treatment in the Middle East

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

NGO Delegate for Africa, Nadia Rafif, speaks to intellectual property issues in the MENA region.

Ten years after the Doha declaration, intellectual property rights continue to constitute a major barrier to access HIV treatment.

According to the last UNAID/WHO report, Middle East and North Africa has the lowest rate of coverage of treatment. Only 8% of people living with HIV in need of treatment receive it. When treatment is available, the choice of ARVs is limited, in comparison of other regions in the world, due to the prices of medicines. A zapper sit tu parles d’une perspective globale!

Like in many Middle Income Countries, the number of patent applications in our region increased significantly since the implementation of the TRIPS agreement. Even the new alternative solutions like the Medicines Patent Pools failed to address this issue as the first negotiated license excluded many of our countries as well as several middle income countries, included the ones from the MENA region.

While, TRIPS allow several flexibilities to protect public health and access to medicines, several countries did not take advantage on that in their national intellectual property laws that now include several TRIPS+ provisions like restrictions on compulsory licenses, ban of parallel imports, data exclusivity, patents on new use etc.

One of the reasons for this is that these laws had been formulated before the Doha Declaration in a very difficult international context, at a time when developed countries were pushing hard for a strict interpretation of TRIPS.

Thematic Intervention: Forced Sterilization of Women Living with HIV

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

Amy Hsieh of the International Community of Women Living with HIV shares the experiences of its members who have been forcibly sterilized because they were living with HIV.

My name is Amy Hsieh and I am reading this statement on behalf of Jennifer Gatsi, a member of the International Community of Women Living with HIV. Today, I will share the experience of our members with forced sterilization.

At a workshop on sexual and reproductive health and rights in 2008, a young woman living with HIV shared what happened when she went to the hospital to give birth. While being wheeled into the operation theatre, she was asked to sign a stack of papers among them a consent form for sterilization. She only learned that she was sterilized afterwards.

Another young woman shared that while she could be open with her husband about her HIV status, after she told her husband that she has been sterilized, her husband is now leaving her.

Such cases have been documented from as far back as 2001 and yet no one realized this was happening until now.  It continues to happen today in many countries, including Namibia, Swaziland, and Kenya. And those who have spoken out are just the tip of the iceberg.

Thematic Intervention: Enabling Communities of People Living with HIV

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

Julian Hows, of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), focuses on the importance of enabling what he views as the most critical part of the HIV response: communities and organizations of people living with HIV.

Good afternoon. My name is Julian Hows and I thank you for allowing me to speak on the issue of enabling environments – but I want to shift the emphasis slightly and I would like to start off with a small history lesson, because I fear that one thing we learn from history is that we sometimes do not learn from history.

Nearly 30 years ago I was part of a community telephone helpline in the UK, called London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard. It operated 24 hours a day from a small room above a bookshop in London. Since the 70’s it had provided advice, support, a friendly voice for all those coming to terms with their sexuality, wanting to know more, or just wanting someone to talk to. From 1982 /3 that included information on what we now call HIV, but then knew very little about, and was affecting as it still does, the gay community most cruelly. We were the first UK response to HIV, we were not government funded, and we had no staff. In 1985 the UK government made its first major response to HIV by delivering 12 million leaflets about HIV (one to every household in the country) and it included the telephone number of that little community helpline number on the leaflet. However they did it without asking the helpline first, or offering them us resources to deal with the response.

After the leaflet was delivered to every household in the country that little Gay and Lesbian helpline took 295,000 calls in the next year alone…

Hold on to that history lesson for a moment.

Thematic Intervention: Law Enforcement & Sex Workers

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

Incoming NGO Delegate for Africa, Mickey Meji, shares the issues sex workers face by law enforcement.

Harassment, rape, needless exposure to HIV and other illnesses (by law enforcers) which is a DIRECT consequence of the current legal framework and its enforcement remains a dominant factor and barrier in achieving the vision of an HIV-free generation, which in this context remains just a dream.

Sex workers are arrested for having condoms on them and this being used as evidence that one is indeed a sex worker; this discourages carrying of condoms on them and therefore increasing their chances of practicing unsafe sex. Sex workers on treatment are arrested, denied access to medication and detained for days which would result in them getting sick and dying. It is clear, ladies and gentlemen, that the laws we have in place and the way they are being enforced towards key populations are contradicting their right to health and  that these laws and their enforcement are hindering progress towards eliminating HIV transmission.

But the fact that in the past 15 years only a few administrations – including the Australian state of New South Wales and New Zealand – have decriminalised sex work means that its opponents are powerful and that our efforts have been inadequate. Their HIV prevalence tells the tale:  A new approach is needed. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, we suggest that we all work diligently in partnership with UNAIDS and Member States to take steps towards decriminalizing adult consensual sex work by removing laws and policies that reduces sex workers’ and their clients access to health and justice services, and, by so doing, we would have taken a step towards reaching the goal of Zero new infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths. Thank you.

Thematic Intervention: Best Practices from New Zealand

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

NGO Delegate for Asia and the Pacific, Jane Bruning, shares her country’s and her personal experiences with HIV.

I would like to share with you some examples from New Zealand where the removal of punitive laws has played a significant role in the reduction of HIV transmission.

New Zealand meets the UNAIDS/WHO criteria for a “low-level” HIV and AIDS epidemic because HIV prevalence has not consistently exceeded five percent in any defined sub-population. Since recording of HIV and AIDS began in 1985 there have been a total of 3475 cases.

The Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986

AIDS first emerged in New Zealand in the mid 1980’s amongst the MSM community at a time when homosexuality was still illegal. The movement for homosexual reform had started sometime before the onset of AIDS, but it is undeniable the AIDS epidemic spurred action in this area. In 1986 the movement was successful in lobbying for the The Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986, which was an amendment to the Crimes Act 1961. The Homosexual Law Reform Act, removed criminal sanctions against consensual homosexual conduct between males, and as a consequence amended the law relating to consensual anal intercourse (Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986).

The passing of this law enabled the establishment of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation who’s main focus has been on HIV awareness and prevention for men who have sex with men.

Thematic Intervention: Drug Users in Afghanistan

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

Raheem Janmohammad, a member of INPUD and the Afghan Drug User’s Group in Afghanistan, was unable to attend the UNAIDS meeting. NGO Delegate for Europe Mat Southwell read Raheem’s following personal account to the audience.

We are the forgotten dirt of Kabul city. We are never safe. We have nowhere to hide.

We live under extreme poor living conditions, hidden in the dirt of the riverbed in Kabul-city and even there they do not leave us alone. They chase us away, but we have nowhere to go. They try to beat harder, but they do not offer a solution. They tell us we belong under the ground.

Every week, the contra-narcotic police come to hunt for us. They beat us away and burn all our blankets and clothes. Even after so many years, they still don’t seem to understand that we are not there by choice; we have nowhere else to go. They only beat us harder and harder, we see more and more victims. From our situation there are two ways: Either we get an effective treatment, or we die under these circumstances. Right now, the ministry of Contra-Narcotics has blocked the only Methadone treatment in the country.

When somebody dies due to HIV, overdose or other preventable healthcare problems, the body often remains in the location for 2 or 3 days before the police will collect his corps. My friends and I arranged a funeral a few days ago. Then one day later, a policeman came to our shelter and said that I’m responsible for his death. I know he only wants money. I hope he will not come back, I don’t know if I’ll have enough money. We have been beaten many times by the police for defending the rights of our friends and we have to constantly deal with this cruel corruption. All we want is just to be treated as a human beings. We want a life of care, love and free of violence. We want this for every human being.

Thematic Intervention: HIV, Human Rights and Faith Communities

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

Ruth Foley, from the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, speaks about how faith communities are linking theology, human rights and HIV.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a network of some 80 Christian and faith-based organizations, including Caritas Internationalis, Catholic Relief Services and the International Network of Religious Leaders living with and affected by HIV who are all represented here today. We recognize that the legal environment in the vast majority of states cannot be understood in isolation from the faith values and traditions practiced by citizens and government leaders alike.

We commend the framework for legal accountability for violations of the God-given dignity of every human being that is embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the wider canon of international human rights law. We view this framework as the best available set of tools for seeking justice for victims of human rights violations. However, while some religious communities have fully integrated human rights as part of their identity and purpose, we are aware that in different parts of the world and among some religious communities human rights are still viewed as imposed values.

We see some potential for reframing this conversation by, for instance, speaking of human dignity and of justice, which are central values for all faith communities and also undergird human rights law. However, we believe that more needs to be done to accompany religious communities in exploring how best to relate, through their theology as well as in their policies and programmes, to the body of law and practice that is human rights.

Thematic Intervention: The Effects of Sex Work Decriminalization & Legalization in Switzerland

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

Claudette Plumey of ProCoRe and Fabian Chapot of present the case study of sex work in Geneva, where it has been decriminalized and legalized. The original in French can be found below the English translation. The unofficial translation is courtesy of Joanne Csete, Columbia University.

Delegates of member states of the Programme Coordination Board of UNAIDS:

We thank the PCB of UNAIDS for welcoming us to its 29th meeting.

Claudette Plumey, president of ProCoRe (umbrella organization of associations working in defense of persons in prostitution in Switzerland) and myself, Fabian Chapot (coordinator of prevention and outreach projects at would like to offer you our testimony.  This is an expert testimony because for about 30 years, Aspasie has been fighting for the human rights, health and social inclusion of sex workers in Geneva.  Incidentally, as we speak, there is an art exhibit at the Bains des Pâquis (lakeside in Geneva) that illustrates in photographs the daily lives of ten sex workers.  I invite you to visit it.

In Geneva, sex work is not criminalized[1] and in fact has been grounded in law since 2009.

The non-criminalization of sex work means:

  • Much better safety for sex workers because of non-discrimination and protection by the police (sex workers can call on the police if they encounter violent clients)
  • Reduction in stigma because sex workers are recognized as providing a service
  • Taxation of sex work and access to health insurance and social insurance and by the same token the beginning of a sense of social inclusion among sex workers
  • The possibility of denouncing abuses in sex workers’ environments (human trafficking and sex work are NOT the same thing).

Thematic Intervention: Justice and TRIPS

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

An intervention by Incoming NGO Delegation for Asia and the Pacific, Ed Attapon Ngoksin of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition.

I am speaking on behalf of International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, a global network of treatment advocates that works in over 100 countries around the world on access to HIV-related treatment.

Communities of PLHIV in India, Thailand, South Africa, Brazil and others are known for their long-standing battle for the right to health. We seek justice and protection of their right to highest attainable standard of health in national justice system. In recent years, we witnessed that it is through juridical system the ‘big industries’ have filed a number court cases against governments which stand by their civil societies and communities PLHIV. My government remained on the “Priority Watch List” of the big country after having issued compulsory licenses to obtain affordable AIDS and heart disease medicines.

It is through this system that civil societies and community of PLHIV file a lawsuit to block the implementation of national legislation that have negative impact on access to affordable medicines. These laws, namely, ‘the Anti-Counterfeit Act’ – the law that aims to protect consumers against counterfeit medicines. Our constituents are very concerned that in many countries we work in, the implications of this law fail to categorically distinguish falsified medicines from generic medicines.

Thematic Intervention: HIV and Employment-Related Discrimination

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

Intervention by Zuzanna Muskat-Gorska, Global Trade Union HIV/AIDS Coordinator the International Trade Union Confederation

The ITUC would like to share some experiences on HIV and employment related discrimination.

What we observe is that HIV employment discrimination remains a huge problem – this  is well demonstrated  in the Stigma Index research; HIV related employment discrimination cases rarely hit the courts (which might indicate problems with access to justice); and when such cases reach the courts, judges have problems with ruling dismissal on grounds of HIV status illegal, as well as with ruling employment related HIV testing  illegal (which might indicate problems with both contents of laws and with  law enforcement).

Irina Teplinskaya: Prison, Discrimination and Death – The Criminalization of People Who Use Drugs

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

Irina Teplinskaya, from the Eurasian Network of People Who Use Drugs and INPUD, opened up the thematic session on ‘HIV and Enabling Legal Environments’ with a moving personal account of the discrimination she has faced as a drug user in Russia. You can read an extended version of her speech on the Rylkov Foundation website.

I am listed as a representative of a key population – and that obliges me to speak not with a language of cold mind and faceless figures, but with a language of the heart.  My life is like a mirror showing a bigger general picture; it gives an example of what’s happening to millions of people using drugs in many parts of Eastern Europe and in many other places around the world.

I am 44, and for the past 30 years I have been dependent on opiate drugs. According to the definitions of the World Health Organization and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, drug dependency is a chronic health condition. People who are dependent on drugs are outcast by default; they are socially isolated and deprived of their civic rights!

Thirty years have passed since the discovery of HIV. During those years the disease took the lives of millions of people all over the world. The whole world has united to stop human deaths and pain, and we know how to stop it. We have overcome many things already and many parts of the world are making very good progress. Some have even largely overcome their HIV epidemics. We have developed prevention strategies to protect people from infection in the most difficult situations. It is now possible to control drug use with opioid substitution therapy. Finally, antiretroviral therapy to treat HIV appeared! But imagine the despair of knowing these lifesaving approaches exist but then having to live in a country where science and practice has been replaced by lies and repression.

In the countries where opiate substitution therapy is available, drug-addicted women, like any other women, can have babies, nurse and raise them without risking their health or lives.

Prison sentences that we are getting for insignificant drug-related offences are disproportionate to the severity of those offences. For many of us prison conditions equal death sentence because of the absence of the drugs to treat HIV, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis and substitution therapy.

I have spent 16 years in prisons, sentenced to jail for purchasing and possessing drugs for personal use relating to my chronic health condition! I acquired hepatitis C and HIV because I did not have access to harm reduction services recommended by the WHO and endorsed by this UNAIDS Board. Last time I was in prison, in 2007, I developed AIDS and had tuberculosis. I was denied my right to HIV treatment in prison and I had to go on hunger strikes and to open veins to force the prison service to give me healthcare treatment and because of this action my peers in prison were also given treatment.

I was a health care assistant for 2 years in a tuberculosis hospital. During this time I witnessed the deaths of more than 200 friends of mine, all young people, quite talented and promising. Almost all of them died for one common reason – they were opioid-dependent, and they came for treatment on last stages of TB, when it was already too late to help them.

In Russia we tell a story. Before people knew that the world was round, they told a story that the world rested on 3 whales and a turtle. Prison, discrimination and death are the three whales and bad drug policy is the turtle that rests on the three whales! When governments undermine HIV prevention and treatment by criminalising my community and tell us that harm reduction doesn’t work, it as if I am back in world before science. Criminalizing people who use drugs ensures that HIV will continue to spread and destroy people’s lives. It is time to recognise the truth about harm reduction and human rights just like previous generations who recognised that the world wasn’t really flat as they then thought.

Intervention: NGO Delegate for Asia and the Pacific – UNAIDS results, accountability and budget matrix

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

Download in pdf format

We welcome the completion of the Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF) and would like to thank the Secretariat for its marathon efforts to finalize the document to deliver for this PCB meeting in such a short time. We are particularly pleased that the new UBRAF now incorporates measurable outputs and outcomes regarding human rights and gender equality especially as they impact on key and vulnerable populations.

The process of consultation, including the multistakeholder consultation and the subcommittee that informed the UBRAF, was truly engaging. It is our hope that a similar mechanism be in place for the planning of the next biennium budget (2014-2015), including the development of new indicators and as we learn lessons from the UBRAF’s implementation.

Madam Chair and members of the PCB, we noted that work around the development of definitions of indicators related to civil society engagement, resourcing and strengthening, particularly around section D1.1.3, and D2.1.4, D2.2.2, and D2.4, and sexual and gender-based violence indicators in C4.2.2, are still to be developed.

Intervention: NGO Delegate for Latin America and the Caribbean – UNAIDS Technical Support

Blog19 December 2011 by Amy Coulterman[PDF][print]

Download in pdf format

La delegación de ONGS sigue apoyando los objetivos de la Asistencia Técnica y la estrategia de desarrollo de capacidades que fue presentada en el PCB el año anterior, en Diciembre de 2010: vale decir,

  • Los países tienen capacidades y sistemas para identificar, planificar y coordinar soporte técnico de alta calidad relativo al VIH para lograr la implementación y de respuestas sustentables  nacionales, regionales y globales  con alto nivel de calidad.
  • El soporte técnico de ONUSIDA logra altos estándares de calidad,  logra una coordinación óptima, es efectiva, eficiente, dirigida por la demanda, orientada a resultados y responsable en doble vía.

Para ese momento la delegación de ONGs conjuntamente con estados miembros insistió en que la estrategia presentada no era suficiente, esperábamos una estrategia más sustancial, dados los mencionados objetivos y solicitamos que ésta fuera traída de regreso a esta junta directiva en Diciembre de 2011.

El informe presentado para este 29 PCB enlista algunas actividades logradas, es un reporte de progreso, el mismo que agradecemos, pero a de sus importantes logros, continúa aún no siendo una estrategia.

Los puntos clave establecidos el año anterior por esta delegación siguen siendo relevantes. Estos incluyen las siguientes cuestiones:

  • Están los planes nacionales, regionales y globales integrados de manera tal que puedan ser monitoreados?
  • Cómo la estrategia de asistencia técnica se articula con la estrategia de asociación de ONUSIDA? Este punto, por cierto, fe presentado también en nuestra intervención sobre la segunda evaluación independiente.
  • La sociedad civil con frecuencia encuentra dificultades y retrasos para el acceso a la asistencia técnica. Como pretende la estrategia de AT facilitar el acceso a la sociedad civil

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Representing Civil Society on the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board