15 years ago, I was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 18. 15 years ago, my life was saved by a community-led organization.
I am a living example of how civil society organizations have been essential for the empowerment and mobilization of key populations and women in many countries. We play a critical role in ensuring effective AIDS response that answers to the diverse needs of people that, unfortunately are not reached by our governments. Thus we should also be at the center of all programming if the world is to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.
There is a global consensus and agreement among governments across the world through the commitment made in the 2016 Political Declaration on Ending AIDS. This includes ensuring that at least 30% of all service delivery is community-led by 2030, and at least 6% of HIV resources are allocated for social enabling activities, including advocacy, community and political mobilization, community monitoring, public communication, and outreach programmes for rapid HIV tests and diagnosis, as well as for human rights programmes, such as law and policy reform, and stigma and discrimination reduction.
Currently, the global monitoring tools used by countries to report on their progress, including the Global AIDS Monitoring and National AIDS Spending Assessment, do not reflect how much investment is made towards community-led initiatives. In 2014, UNAIDS estimated only about 1% of total global AIDS resources was funding for community-led services.
Like us, our organisations also face many challenges to thrive and survive. Many community-led initiatives, particularly in low and middle income countries rely heavily on international funding, which is getting more and more difficult to access, due to administrative barriers, policies and legislation that limit or even block access to these funds with administrative procedures, a factor known in some of our countries as the “foreign agent” laws that also stigmatize and target those organizations that are fighting and supporting the interests of key populations.
As well, continuous application of punitive laws and criminalization of key population creates further risks of diminishing access to financial resources, particularly in countries during transition period and where political will is lacking. Many communities have already failed to register their organizations because of their reference to specific key populations. Furthermore, restrictions on the right to freedom of association and speech
have created a disabling environment for communities and civil society to undertake advocacy and community mobilization work.
After years of HIV Political Declarations affirming that communities should be at the center of all programming, Member States continue to hesitate in removing policies that remain as barriers. Without the political will to address these challenges and to fulfill the commitments made, we will fail in achieving the end of AIDS.
Community-led responses and organizations have saved many lives, including myself, and will continue to do so. I strongly urge UNAIDS to strengthen the work in supporting countries to remove the legal frameworks that hinder community-led responses.
Agenda Item 8. Best Practices on Effective Funding of Community-led HIV Responses
Delivered by Aditia Taslim Lim, Asia Pacific NGO Delegate
Tags: 43rd PCB Meeting