Agenda 8 – intervention by Alexander Pastoor, incoming European delegate

Thank you madam chair,

As a white gay man living with HIV in the Netherlands, I am in many ways privileged, especially when it comes to having access to high-quality HIV healthcare. Yet I have an obligation to look beyond my own privilege and look to those people living with HIV that are falling through the cracks in the Netherlands, other countries in Europe and, in fact, in all regions.

Although the Netherlands is among the first countries in the world to reach the 90-90-90-targets our national HIV-response faces challenges in reaching the remaining 10-10-10, among which a substantial percentage are people on the move.

There’s an ever-growing body of evidence that peer support programs and other community-led HIV-programmes are needed for and can contribute substantially in, bridging the gaps in reaching those people that either don’t access HIV healthcare services timely, are lost to follow up or can’t reach viral suppression. Structural barriers like stigma and discrimination, lack of access to comprehensive sexuality education and the lack of culturally sensitive healthcare services are SCREAMING for innovative community-led programmes and social enablers.

But in order to put these programmes effectively to work, community-led organisations need stable funding and commitment from government bodies. Yet even in a high-income setting such as the Netherlands, organisations like the Dutch association of people living with HIV struggle to find sufficient and stable funding for community-led programmes and social enablers. And we have heard many cases, around the globe, showing that in all regions, HIV organisations are lacking the capacity to keep providing services, information and to keep responding to the HIV epidemic.

In the past two years, a consortium of Dutch NGO’s set up a successful peer to peer project for people living with HIV with a migration background. Informal care and support from people living with HIV for newly diagnosed people living with HIV and those struggling with keeping engaged in HIV care showed remarkable results. Vulnerable groups of patients experienced less stigma and less treatment failure resulting in a sustained viral suppression and a better quality of life. Yet despite these encouraging results, there is no sustainable funding for further training of volunteers.

This is, unfortunately, completely in line with the finding of this report.

If we want to end AIDS by 2030 we not only have miles to go, we need to make sure that we walk these miles together with the people affected and not leave them behind. We need more and meaningful involvement of communities and individuals of people living with or affected by HIV. We need the member states to keep their funding obligations on what they signed up to in 2016, if not more.

And to put it straightforward madam Chair, it means more, sustainable and better funding of community-led programmes and socially enabling activities, not cutting back on them.

Thank you.

43rd PCB

Intervention agenda item 8

delivered by Alexander Pastoors, Dutch Association of people living with HIV

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