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© Winnie Byanyima addresses the 52nd PCB


The 52nd UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) took place from 26 until 28 June 2023. The thematic segment topic is “Priority and key populations especially transgender people, and the path to the 2025 targets: Reducing health inequities through tailored and systemic responses”.

The thematic segment provides an opportunity for the PCB to discuss the inequalities that are preventing progress in the HIV response for key populations, especially transgender people, and how the HIV response can more effectively reduce the risk and impacts of HIV among these populations. Examples of initiatives being implemented in all regions will be presented, especially those tailored by and responding to the needs of key populations, especially transgender communities in all their diversity. Finally, recommendations are made for the improvement of the HIV response at national, regional and global levels.

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PCB Summary Bulletin

The NGO Delegation’s Summary Bulletin for the 52nd UNAIDS PCB Meeting reflects the engagement of the NGO Delegation on all agenda items of that meeting. It’s made available in all 6 official UN languages. Here you can also watch the recordings of the report back to civil society webinars with interpretation in French, Spanish and Russian.

Agenda items


Agenda Item 1.3 | 52nd PCB Meeting

Report by the Executive Director

NGO Delegate representing Africa

Intervention delivered by Martha Clara Nakato

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Thank you, Chair and Winnie, for the Executive Director’s Report.

It’s nearly 30 years since the birth of UNAIDS; We commend the efforts in progress made so far, particularly the continued commitment to strengthening the influence and position of communities in the national and global HIV response.

The NGO delegation noted an increase in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in particular regions of Eastern & Southern Africa and MENA/EECA Regions which are entirely preventable. At this rate, we are nowhere near the end of AIDS. This is unacceptable!

We have been disappointed time and time again about:

    • The lack of political leadership for adequate domestic HIV financing and the funding commitment to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support particularly for women, LGBTIQ and other key populations.

    • The threat to community leadership and responses.

    • The uncoordinated Joint Programme that continually leaves the communities affected by HIV/AIDS behind.

Comrades, “Those that listen to counsel are wise”; we need to open our eyes to the realities of the growing billions of young populations who are diverse and with different life experiences. The AIDS epidemic is unlike before; we are fighting a multifaceted epidemic of deep-rooted political, social and economic inequalities – purely entangled with human rights, gender, community identity, and sexual and reproductive health and rights issues.

We can’t choose what war to fight first because behind these issues lies a Human Being who is on the verge of acquiring HIV or dying from AIDS; this may be you, me, or any of us……we must fight to protect lives and the dignity of all HUMANS!

We see well-coordinated and well-resourced movements that are anti-gender, anti-LGBTQI and anti-rights – these are determined to encroach on life-saving spaces for  women and key population communities.  We need all of your support to protect our hard-earned gains, your financial commitment to fight back against such non-progressive movements and, significantly, to invest in the joint program, or we will probably not get to the 2025 targets, let alone reach the ambitious 2030 Goals.

Board members, this fight requires COURAGEOUS Leadership, more vital collaboration and overall shared responsibility among all of us. We must strengthen trust, transparency and accountability within the joint program and, notably, for the communities infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Thank you

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52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 1.3 Martha Clara Nakato

NGO Delegate representing Europe

Intervention delivered by Erika Castellanos

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Thank you very much Chair and Winnie for the Report.

I am delivering this intervention as NGO Europe in collaboration with global trans and gender diverse communities.

Trans and gender diverse people have historically been able to count on the support of UNAIDS leadership in working with us and ensuring that the issues of inequalities, stigma and discrimination, violence and criminalization that our communities face are an integral component in the work of UNAIDS.

Unfortunately for some time now, this has been absent.

One of the biggest threats we are facing right now is the anti gender movement. We need to recognize it and we need to call it for what it is.

The anti gender movement does not only affect trans and gender diverse people – it is also attacking sexual and reproductive health education, harm reduction, sex workers, and sexual and reproductive health rights of all. The Trans Exclusive Radical Feminist and the anti gender movement uses language such as anti women agendas to exclude trans people. I invite UNAIDS to please refrain from using or repeating language used by the anti gender movement when we want to refer to the anti gender movement.

The trans community is open to dialogue with UNAIDS and its leadership and to build capacity if required.

Winnie, we request your presence for the whole thematic segment as we believe that if there is any gap in understanding trans and gender diverse issues – you will benefit from a group of experts discussing the topic during this day.

Trans, gender diverse communities don’t ask for friendship or love – we demand respect.

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52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 1.3 Erika Castellanos


Agenda Item 1.4 | 52nd PCB Meeting

Report of the Chair of the Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations (CCO)

NGO Delegate representing Europe

Intervention delivered by Aleksei Lakhov

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Thank you, Chair.

I speak on behalf of the NGO Delegation.

20 years ago I used to literally crawl on the ground searching for used syringes to make another injection. It did not matter who had used these syringes before me. Today, I am sitting in this United Nations space to tell you: the journey that led me here does not make me more deserving of your attention than people who are still using drugs and are not in the so-called “recovery”.

We would like to thank UNODC for presenting this report on June 26, on World Drug Day. People who use drugs are mentioned in the report several times as one of the key populations whose rights are being violated all over the world. 

Only 1% of people who use drugs live in countries where they have adequate access to harm reduction services, including needle and syringe programmes, opioid agonist therapy, and overdose prevention. Globally, 100 billion US Dollars are spent on drug law enforcement, and just 131 million go to harm reduction. Some Member States tend to forget that harm reduction is a human right. Also, unlike the War on Drugs, harm reduction is an evidence-based intervention. 

Today, human rights not only of people who use drugs, but also of adolescent girls and young women, and LGBTIQ+ communities, are under threat from well-organized and well-funded opposition. This is why we need a coordinated response from the Joint Programme. Today, we can not afford the disjointed coordination. 

That is why decisions on the futures of UNAIDS presence in the MENA and EECA regions need to be articulated better both for the PCB members and the communities.

One of the 2025 targets is about increasing the proportion of community-led HIV services and ensuring relevant networks and organizations are sustainably financed, participate in decision-making and generate data through community-led monitoring and research. We would like to see more how the co-sponsors of the Joint Programme have been working towards these targets.

We believe in the unique value of the Joint Programme. Let us ensure that it stays Joint.

Thank you.


52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 1.4 Aleksey Lakhov
52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 1.4 Aleksey Lakhov

Agenda Item 3 | 52nd PCB Meeting

Follow-up to the thematic segment from the 51st Programme Coordinating Board Meeting

NGO Delegate representing Latin America and The Caribbean

Intervention delivered by Gastón Devisich

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Thank you, Chair.

The NGO Delegation welcomes the follow-up report to the 51st PCB’s Thematic Segment. 

“HIV and men in all their diversity” constituted a learning opportunity, but in a different way from what we had originally anticipated. It reminded us of the need to preserve the nature of the PCB as a multilateral space, one that has been game-changing for the leadership of the HIV response and that fully funds the Joint Programme with something greater than money: perspective and humanity. 

This is what the NGO Delegation brings to the table, and without which the Joint Programme would be insufficient, even with a fully replenished UBRAF. Only by having communities upfront and center will we ever effectively address the inequalities that are going to end AIDS.

Then, we must acknowledge the evidence showing that men are not homogenous and thus are differently affected by HIV. Most importantly, it is the groups of men with intersecting vulnerabilities who particularly continue to lag behind in accessing HIV services across the cascade due to inequality and inequity. If we do not know who these are and how they behave, I would like to kindly ask you all today how it is that you are planning to programme for them?

If we want to ensure that men in all their diversity have equal and safe access to comprehensive HIV services, we need to end all forms of stigma, discrimination, criminalization and punitive laws against key populations.

As a cisgender gay man living with HIV in the global south, I can attest to how these have made me feel invisible, violated my human rights, exacerbated the stigma I face, robbed me of the prospect of a healthy and fulfilling life and reinforced its lack of value; and put me in danger by creating barriers to the support and services I need to protect my health. 

We can also see it around the world with the growing anti-rights movements not only undermining the targets set in 2021 and holding back the end of AIDS but also putting our lives at risk. Criminalisation drives discrimination and structural inequalities, we must end it if what we want is to save lives.

Thank you, Chair.

52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 3 Gaston Devisich
52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 3 Gaston Devisich


Agenda Item 4.1 | 52nd PCB Meeting

Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF) 2022-2026 – Performance reporting 2022

NGO Delegate representing Latin America and The Caribbean

Intervention delivered by Xavier Biggs

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Chair, I have the honor of delivering this intervention on the behalf of the NGO Delegation and the communities we represent globally.

I would like to thank the secretariat for preparing the UBRAF report and for making it available to us.

HIV is not a uniform threat affecting everyone equally. It disproportionately impacts different communities, populations, and regions.

As new infections continue to rise in some parts of the world; To effectively address the HIV pandemic, we must move beyond broad strokes and embrace a more targeted program design. 

By disaggregating data beyond sex and age, we gain valuable insights into the specific demographics, behaviors, and social determinants of health that drive new infections. Understanding these nuances is crucial for designing programs that reach vulnerable populations, address our unique challenges, and provide tailored prevention, treatment, and support services.

To address the pressing need for targeted HIV response, it is imperative that member states create and support systems that facilitate the timely collection and reporting of Key Population data. 

It is known that key and priority populations face heightened vulnerability to HIV infection due to various factors such as stigma, discrimination, criminalization which leads to  limited access to healthcare. 

By establishing robust data collection systems, Member States can ensure that information on Key Populations is accurately captured and reported. This entails designing data collection tools and methodologies that are sensitive to the unique characteristics and contexts of these populations, while upholding ethical principles and ensuring confidentiality. Timely reporting of this data is equally crucial to inform evidence-based decision-making, monitor trends, and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions.

Furthermore, Member States must provide adequate support to strengthen data collection systems at various levels

UNAIDS must better collaborate with Member States, co-sponsors and communities  on better accounting for the experiences of key and priority populations. This requires providing greater technical assistance, including capacity-building initiatives, and facilitating a more robust monitoring mechanism for ongoing data collection. By prioritizing the voices and needs of key and priority populations, UNAIDS can drive more inclusive and effective HIV responses that address the unique challenges faced by our communities. Through collaborative efforts and a commitment to data-driven approaches, we can strive towards a world where every individual, regardless of their background, has access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, and support services.

Without this, then we threaten the gains that we have made over many years and we run the risk of missing those targets we have set for ending the AIDS pandemic

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52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 4.1 Xavier Biggs


NGO Delegate representing Asia and The Pacific

Intervention delivered by Midnight Poonkasetwatana

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Thank you very much Chair. 

I am delivering this intervention as NGO Asia and the Pacific. 

We thank Member States, Cosponsors of the Joint Programme, and UNAIDS for recognising the important role and voice that the NGO Delegation brings to this unique Programme Coordinating Board. 

We have seen the rise of HIV infections in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Fiji, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, and Timor-leste. 

We have seen an increase in AIDS-related deaths in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Fiji, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines, and Timor-leste. 

We have seen that 99% of new HIV infections are among young key populations and their partners – with MSM accounting for 52%. 

We need to scale up innovative interventions and differentiate HIV services across the continuum of prevention, treatment and care cascade. 

However, pre-exposure prophylaxis scale up is woefully too slow to affect the course of the HIV epidemic: We’re only reaching an abysmal 3% PrEP users in 2022, and we need to programme long acting injectable PrEP in our region.  

The Joint programme is failing the gay men and other men who have sex with men in my region, particularly for the young generations. 

We welcome Member States stepping in to try and fully fund the UBRAF, however there’s significant shortfalls to fully fund the Joint Programme. 

In order to reach the 2025 target set within the 2021 Political Declaration on AIDS of US$ 29 billion – Asia and the Pacific region needs 32% of this resource. 

As a gay man from the region, I ask why we are continually being left behind – and we demand equal and safe access to comprehensive HIV services, and end all forms of stigma, discrimination, criminalization and punitive laws against gay men and other men who have sex with men. 

We must not leave out communities in Afghanistan and Myanmar due to the political situations.

Lastly, the Pacific Islands are often left behind in the response, and the civil society in the Pacific are disappointed that the UNAIDS Pacific Office will close at the end of August – as Australia mentioned yesterday, Fiji and Papua New Guinea are seeing a rise of HIV infections. 

Thank you.  

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52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 4.1 Midnight Poonkasetwattana



Agenda Item 4.3 | 52nd PCB Meeting

Workplan and Budget 2024-2025 (UBRAF)

NGO Delegate representing Europe

Intervention delivered by Aleksei Lakhov

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Thank you, Chair.

I speak on behalf of NGO Europe.

We thank the Joint Programme for preparing the 2024-25 Workplan and Budget that sets ambitious goals on the road to reaching 2025 and 2030 Global AIDS targets.

One of the Result Areas of the plan concerns upholding human rights for people living with and vulnerable to HIV, including key and priority populations, women, and girls. We are concerned with the urgency of this matter – especially with 9,5 million people still not having access to antiretroviral treatment.

How can we even talk about reaching these targets when we have to deal with the populist nationalism and rising authoritarianism that target trans*people, people who use drugs, and refugees specifically? 

How come we are scrambling for 27 million dollars to reach the lowest threshold of a core UBRAF budget aimed at saving people’s lives when military expenditures around the world aimed at TAKING lives total almost 2 trillion dollars? 

How do we plan on supporting at least 60 countries in removing punitive laws when in 2022 and 2023, there was a significant increase in the number of countries considering new laws that will exacerbate criminalization of consensual same-sex relations, and criminalize funding of LGBTQI+ organizations or those providing services to LGBTQI+ communities? 

And all this continues to happen when the world is supposed to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For now, the Global AIDS targets look like a telephone number: 10-10-10-30-60-80-95-95-95. If we call it in two years time what answer will we get? “We’re sorry, you have reached a number that is no longer in service”? Or: “Hello, you’ve reached the Joint Programme. We are unable to come to the phone right now”? Or will it be a human message of hope, strength and perseverance? It depends on every person in this room.

Thank you.

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52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 4.3 Aleksey Lakhov



Agenda Item 5 | 52nd PCB Meeting

Update on strategic human resources management issues

NGO Delegate representing Africa

Intervention delivered by Myles John Mwansa

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Thank you Chair. 

The NGO Delegation takes note of the update on strategic human resource management issues.

Given the on-going shortfalls in UBRAF core funding and the organizational alignment process it is imperative for the UNAIDS Secretariat to be on a path that is financially sustainable and more cost effective and strengthen staffing at country and regional levels, closest to the people it serves. 

The NGO Delegation is worried about the closure of the Middle East and North Africa Regional Office, because the concentration of HIV infections among key populations at higher risk remains a major challenge for national programmes in the region. 

A rapid increase in prevention, testing and treatment coverage is difficult to achieve, since

homosexuality, sex work and drug use continue to be stigmatized and criminalized.

Complicated social and legal contexts, and a lack of political commitment to provide

comprehensive HIV services to key populations, adds to the complexity. 

Was there an exit strategy with a formal guidance provided to staff on the process to follow with regard to the closure of the office?

We have heard from our civil society friends in the MENA region that they are worried about what it would mean for the lives of their peers there without a UNAIDS regional office. Were there sufficient consultations cosponsors and governments to take over the HIV response? Civil society has always provided recommendations. We have heard them. If it has provided you none, that is a red flag that you must go back to the drawing board.


In addition, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and Latin

America have all seen increases in annual HIV infections over the past decade. 

In the Pacific region, Fiji is showing the fastest HIV rates as well as AIDS-related deaths according to the 2022 Global AIDS Monitoring report, and the community is asking why should this office shut when their communities are dying? 

As an NGO delegate, and young person living with HIV from Zambia, how is the Joint Programme working together to ensure faster responses to save the lives of our communities by ensuring integration of HIV and SRHR interventions? 

The NGO delegates are worried for our communities who are ultimately suffering, and we would like to see a unified and coordinated response. 


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52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 5 Myles Mwansa



Agenda Item 6 | 52nd PCB Meeting

Statement by the representative of the UNAIDS Secretariat Staff Association

NGO Delegate representing North America

Intervention delivered by Christian Hui

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Thank you Chair.

The NGO Delegation thanks the UNAIDS Staff Association for the report and presentation, and in particular, executive committee members, Tina Boonto and Emily Christie for their tireless service to the USSA as they will soon transition out of their roles, vacancies which we hope others will assume to continue this important work.

There is an adage that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” We raise this because this proverb also applies to UNAIDS if we view it as a human: Imagine UNAIDS as a young adult at the age of 29 and currently transitioning into becoming an adult.

After honeymooning with her 11 co-sponsors in polyamory, UNAIDS is in a dry spell and faced with an identity crisis. UNAIDS’ rich donor parents placed her on a stipend she can barely live off and instead gave most of their funds to UNAIDS’ cousin, the Global Fund.

UNAIDS doesn’t know what to do except to comply: to become lean and fit for purpose working on more than anyone is able, while her 700 children staff, despite being passionate and committed experienced work professionals, are overwhelmed and starved with time, many older children were let go, leaving UNAIDS with little institutional memory or advancement opportunities.

It is hard for UNAIDS to do her job properly. As opposed to doing what he knows best, using people-centered, collaborative approaches she has prided herself in, she often skims off with her staff children and co-sponsor lovers. The USSA staff survey, a gold standard, has now been reduced to only a few questions in the Global Staff Survey, a decision we hope management will revert.

UNAIDS is faced with change: he is actually trans, and to transform, he came up with a People’s Strategy. The many areas UNAIDS can still improve include improving transparency, accountability, recruitment processes, communication, and trust, including bringing forth grievances to direct reports and management.

While it is great to know improvements have been made since the last PCB, we do not wish to see burnout from either UNAIDS or the staff children who are stretched to the max. Focus must be placed on creating empowering culture and stable work environments, and upholding duty-of-care for staff. Staff needs adequate admin support and new staff must have adequate training. Simplify archaic processes to allow for efficiency.

Member States, Secretariat, Senior Management and Cabinet, you are all part of this global village as part of the HIV/AIDS response. Civil society is awaiting to see how you can help UNAIDS and its staff children nurse back to health.

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52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 6 Christian Hui

Agenda Item 7 | 52nd PCB Meeting

Organizational Oversight Reports

NGO Delegate representing Asia and The Pacific

Intervention delivered by Sonal Giani

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Thank you, Chair. The NGO Delegation welcomes the various reports presented today.

Discussing the Internal Audit, we concur that a strategic plan for the Regional Support Teams will foster enhanced coherence and uniformity in our operations. We also consider it paramount to have an effective exit strategy for office closures, such as the one in Eritrea, to ensure smooth transition of responsibilities to cosponsors and proper handling of assets and contracts.

In the Ethics report, we note a positive shift; the fact that 58% of respondents now feel comfortable reporting misconduct is a promising sign of progress. But, it is important to recognize that our Ethics Office’s crucial role is currently managed by a single individual. It is incumbent upon us to guarantee the necessary support to uphold the ethics and accountability we advocate for effectively.

As the Management reiterates its commitment to continue improving the timely implementation of audit recommendations and continue to introduce measures in this regard, we would also like to recommend for management to look at simplifying systems and procedures for a much more efficient process in light of the much reduced staff due to the realignment, and the shortfall in funding of the UBRAF.  

Although the programme has made progress, we are also aware of the challenges. They do not solely exist in the evaluation office, but are much broader. The financial hurdles run deep, and it is the hour for Member States to step up, not only to secure a fully financed evaluation office but also a completely resourced UNAIDS.

We welcome the report from the UNAIDS Independent External Oversight Advisory Committee and approve the revised terms of reference. They accurately reflect our shared commitment to bolstering evidence-based decision-making, learning, and accountability within the Joint Programme.

As we move forward, guided by the insights from these reports, please remember your core duty to those affected by our policies and actions. The narratives of those on the ground, the communities living with the realities of HIV/AIDS, offer the programme insights as powerful as they are genuine. 

In closing, let us all open our ears and our hearts to their calls, and equally important, open our wallets to mobilize the necessary resources. We must persist in our commitment to make UNAIDS a harassment-free and abuse-free organization, an emblem of hope for those in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Our journey is not yet over, but united in our resolve, we can and we will change the course.

Thank you

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52nd PCB Meeting Intervention on Agenda item 7 Sonal Giani



Agenda Item 8 | 52nd PCB Meeting

Thematic Segment: Priority and key populations especially transgender people, and the path to 2025 targets: Reducing health inequities through tailored and systemic responses

NGO Delegate representing Europe

Presentation delivered by Erika Castellanos

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Ma’alo’ob k’iin ti’tulaakal.


Good morning everyone and welcome.

My name is Erika Castellanos. I am a transgender woman of Mayan descent. I was born in a small town in western Belize. I come from a line of matriarchs, women who cared, cured, made offerings to mother earth, made decisions based on the stars and helped bring children to this earth. Women who instilled in me the spirit of resilience and the philosophy to look at the good and ignore the not so good. And would I need those teachings in my life…

Just two weeks ago, I was reflecting on my journey and how lucky I was. Yes lucky – none of us should rely on luck for anything but the reality is that the fact that I am alive and with you here today has a lot to do with luck.

You see, I grew up in a country in which at the time – I would be considered a criminal for who I am, for my gender identity. I grew up with my family unsure of what to do and how to love me because they had no information, no support, and the law and religion told them I was wrong. I grew up with nightmares. Nightmares of burning in hell because that is what the local priest told me would happen to me if I did not change. I have the scars of the abuse I had to go through in a so-called clinic that was going to cure me. Fingers were pointed at me, schoolmates made jokes – I felt dirty, I felt unsafe.

In my journey to find my place in this world, I migrated to another country at the age of 16. And no, I will not tell you how long ago that was – cause I don’t want you to start doing the math to know my age. I migrated to a country, to a city where I knew no one. Without the skills, I need to survive on my own. But I felt happy – I felt free – free to be who I really was.

Naive me, the euphoria lasted only a short time. I quickly learned that the world is a very cruel place. I ended up on the streets, every night trying to find a new place to sleep that could shelter me from the rain or cold. As a survival strategy, I engaged in sex work – and being a sex worker gave me the first breath of independence – the feeling that I could shape my future. Well, that took a while …. On the way, I ended up in prison – not one or two – but many times … accused of acts against good morals. Whatever that means. I engaged in using drugs and was feeling tired of the cold, cruel world.

In 1995 I was diagnosed HIV positive. In a time when there was limited treatment available, when frequently a diagnosis was translated as death. In fact, my doctor told me that I had like 6 months to live. I did not die… Then he said, you have like 2 years, you are lucky, he said. I am so stubborn that again I refused to die – probably I was too engaged in trying to prove him wrong. One day at the clinic – amongst wheelchairs, bodies so weak and wasted that all you could see is skin on top of bone … among sad faces and me looking at how I will probably look in the near future and the pain I might be feeling — in that clinic, I met someone that could not stop making jokes – jokes about living with HIV and made other people laugh – that day I made the decision that I want to change things – I want to make people’s lives better and if there is only one thing I could do I wish to at least put a smile on people’s face.

That is my journey – fast track to today – I am here with you all at the PCB, I am the Executive Director of GATE, a global trans, gender diverse and intersex organization, last week I was in the annual meeting of special procedures and I thought to myself – how did I get here? I have been lucky – you see, for trans people, this is luck – this is an exception because we live in a world that is trying to kill us – we live in a world that is so bizarre that, as National Chamber representative of Brazil Erika Hilton said, people get outraged when trans kids have access to gender affirming care, but no one is outraged, and everyone is silent when trans youth and children commit suicide because they are not allowed to be who they are, no one is outraged when trans youth and children are killed by the hands of transphobia. Indeed we live in a world where it is ok to hate me, to kill me, in the name of religion.

Trans people are disproportionately affected by HIV, both in terms of the risk of contracting HIV and the risk of not being able to access medical care – not because we are trans … but because society makes us vulnerable. We are made vulnerable because we don’t have equal access to employment, education, health, housing … in fact, we don’t have equal access to any rights – rights that many take for granted because it is everyday life for you – like getting on a bus, opening a bank account and having a family.  Many trans and gender diverse people cannot access health care services because they do not have an identity document that matches the way they look.  Others fear accessing health services because of the stigma and discrimination they have experienced at the hands of healthcare workers.

The anti-gender movement tries to erase our existence and is gaining ground. They are well-resourced with finances we cannot compete with. The spread of lies, of intentionally harmful false statements creates fear in those who seem to think we are so different that we deserve a new species classification. No. No, we are simply humans. Humans trying to be equal humans like everyone else. The anti-gender movement poses significant challenges and threats to the lives of trans people and organizations that advocate for transgender rights. This movement undermines the progress made in recognizing and affirming diverse gender identities. Trans people face increased discrimination, marginalization, and invalidation due to the anti-gender rhetoric, which often seeks to delegitimize our identities and deny our access to fundamental rights and resources. Furthermore, organizations dedicated to supporting and uplifting the transgender community face obstacles in providing essential services, education, and advocacy due to the hostile environment fostered by the anti-gender movement.

Yet States continue to take our rights to public consultation – putting them to a vote – as is the case with gender identity laws in many countries. Human rights are inalienable. They are indivisible and interdependent because all rights are equally important, and none can be fully enjoyed without the other. Make no mistake, the rights of trans and gender diverse people is not something that you are to believe in – it is not a religion and does not depend on anyone having faith – at least it should not.  When human rights are weakened, when governments decide that some people should have rights and others should not, we all become more vulnerable.  The same anti-human rights movement that is attacking the trans and gender-diverse community is attacking the rights of other vulnerable groups, such as migrants, refugees, and women’s reproductive rights.  Strengthening access to human rights for one group does not weaken the rights of another – it strengthens the human rights framework and culture for all people.

Yet in many countries, outrageous outdated practices still continue – with the exception of a few countries such as Malta, Argentina and most recently Spain, the vast majority of countries engage in pathologizing practices for access to gender affirming care or legal gender recognition. And there are worse – in many countries access to gender affirming care and legal gender recognition remains but a dream. The day I received my certificate confirming I have a mental condition “gender dysphoria” I was unsure if I should cry, be mad or laugh. I felt upset that I am still having to be declared mentally ill in order to be recognised as myself, but at the same time that senseless piece of paper (from my perspective) will help me access legal gender identity that would otherwise be denied. Shame on us. Yet there is hope, even if we are forced to go though pathologizing practices and humiliating experiences, more than a third of the countries of the world allow change of legal gender. I’ll take that as a win.

We need to do better. We need to stop demonizing – sexualizing and hating trans and gender diverse people. More than allies, we need our fellow humans, our family, our friends, our work colleagues, to see us as equal to, as same as, not different from. When we view the world through the lens of what unites us, rather than what divides us, we have a much better chance of improving the lives, health and human rights of all persons on this earth. And after all, is that what we all really want most of all? To love, and to be loved?

Today we are engaged in this dialogue – I have hope.

Thank you.

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Erika Castellanos delivering the keynote for the Thematic Segment

NGO Delegate representing Asia and The Pacific

Intervention delivered by Sonal Giani

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Dear Chair,

Thank you for the report. I speak on behalf of the NGO delegation.

As representatives and members of the transgender community, we find ourselves as the subject of disheartening statistics, but we are not victims. We are an emblem of resilience, the voice of change, and the holders of lived experiences.

Picture the harsh reality of our transgender sister from South Africa, her home unjustly seized, her dignity ruthlessly attacked. Her story, a chilling testament to the report’s findings, is far from unique. Across the globe, we, the transgender community, grapple with such egregious human rights violations daily.

The data in the report tells a harrowing tale. It’s our tale. Despite representing less than 5% of the global population, our community grapples with over 90% of new HIV infections outside sub-Saharan Africa. We are six times more likely to live with HIV in prison. In an unjust world, we are the faces behind these numbers. In the fight against HIV/AIDS, we are not just targets for intervention. We are the intervention.

We appeal to you, not as beneficiaries, but as partners. Understand the layered complexity of our existence. Invest in our lives and our ability to respond to the HIV pandemic. Recognize our ability to transform suffering imposed upon us by systems and structures into strength, adversity into advocacy.

But, our plea today is not just about investments. It’s about integrating our realities into your policies. We call for the integration of transgender-specific health data in the National Health Management Information System, emphasizing our visibility in HIV/AIDS interventions. And, a concerted effort to address the social, economic, and legal barriers that impede our access to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment services.

Remember, we are battling ignorance as much as we are battling a disease. Stigma, discrimination, and systemic inequality are persistent obstacles we face, isolating us, and feeding the HIV epidemic.

Today, we stand in solidarity with you, not at your behest, but by your side. We urge you to not be mere spectators but change partners. For we are not just numbers and statistics, but people who deserve respect, joy and liberty.

Let us collectively turn this tide, transforming these challenging narratives into a powerful movement towards an equitable, stigma-free world, where no one is left behind in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Thank you and wish you a Happy Pride Month!

NGO Delegate representing North America

Intervention delivered by Christian Hui

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Thank you Chairs. 

I’m a queer poz immigrant settler residing on the Dish with One Spoon Treaty 13 Territory, Turtle Island/Toronto, Canada. Based on regional consultation, my constituency recommends the following:

  1. On governance, especially for Indigenous and gender diverse peoples: In addition to the Australia-Canada-Greece-Turkey-New Zealand constituency intervention provided during Panel 1, UNAIDS and the Joint Programme to have a clear mechanism where UNPFII interventions on HIV, HCV, TB, SRHR issues can be brought forth, to support collaborative, community-engaged policy-creation, research and monitoring where Indigenous people across the gender spectrum are placed at the centre to support an evidence-based, culturally-safe, differentiated response. Please take a copy of the intervention at the table outside the meeting room.
  2.   On LGBTIQ+ migrant/refugees: Sunny, a trans man from Pakistan reached out to me after he resettled in Canada seeking help for his four transmen and transwomen friends who were facing persecution in Pakistan. When Sunny requested help from a LGBTIQ+ migrant organisation, he was informed his friends must go through the usual intake process due to a high volume of applications. Given the precarity faced by his friends, I showed Sunny how to crowdfund. Sunny raised CAN $4,000 and swiftly relocated his trans friends out of the country to safety. Regional migrants/refugees groups call for co-financing of equitable partnerships between global, regional, local organisations and grassroots groups of affected populations. 

If we are truly serious about meaningfully engaging 2-Spirit, transgender and gender-diverse people across the intersections of key and priority populations groups in governance and funding decisions, rather than criminalising gender-diverse people, we should support, invest and fund them to become part of the governance structures and key players in the implementation, evaluation and monitoring of the Global HIV/AIDS agenda. Nothing About Us, Without Us.

Thank you.

Our NGO Delegation

The Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) was created to serve as the governing body of UNAIDS. The PCB includes a Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) Delegation composed of five members and five alternates that represent five geographic regions: Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America.

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UNAIDS and the UN

UNAIDS was established in 1994 through a resolution of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and made operational in January 1996.

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