Delivered by Aditia Taslim Lim, Asia-Pacific NGO Delegate
I would like to commend the acting Executive Director, Gunilla Carlsson, in her statement on the importance of remembering where we are in the AIDS response - that it is far from over, and the end of AIDS is not near.
Over the past few years, we have spoken about scaling up prevention. A global coalition was formed to accelerate HIV prevention and strengthen the political commitment to ensure access to primary prevention. Despite the global efforts that have been put together, impact at the country level is lacking. We are not moving to where we want to be, and in some cases, we are moving backward quite quickly.
I have mentioned this in my interventions in previous PCB meetings, and I will not rest until there are changes. So please allow me to address a few issues as a reality check.
Countries in our region remain vulnerable to an increasing trend of new HIV infections. Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in the number of new infections in countries like Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea.
People living with HIV do not have access to life-saving treatment. Despite the overall achievement on the adoption of the WHO guidelines of Test and Treat, 8 million people do not have access to ARV. This includes countries that are lagging behind in treatment coverage including Madagascar, Pakistan, South Sudan, and Indonesia with 7, 8, 13 and 15 percent respectively.
Structural barriers remain key to achieving the 90-90-90 targets, but they also remain forgotten and neglected. Let’s agree that young girls and adolescent women, as well as boys and young men, will remain vulnerable if they do not stay in school and are not well-informed of sexual reproductive health and rights. More and more countries have recently upheld punitive laws on same-sex relationships and HIV disclosure. People who use drugs remain criminalised, and difficult discussions on harm reduction and drug decriminalisation are often off the radar. As a result, we see funding for harm reduction services continuously shrinking and people who use drugs do not have access to clean needles and syringes, including life-saving naloxone, and prisons remain overly populated.
As we move towards increased domestic funding, let’s not forget that our communities are continuously left behind. Transgender persons continue to be excluded in the HIV response because countries fail to acknowledge and include them in their datasets. Stigmatization and discrimination against sex workers and their family members continues. Many of their children have no access to citizenship which also leads to effective exclusion from schooling, from healthcare, and in some cases from social support.
For the first time, 24 years since its inception, UNAIDS is looking at setting targets on social enablers. Moving beyond just intention towards actual measurable actions. Additionally, with the support from the Global Partnership to eliminate all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination, we are hoping that we can finally walk the talk.
It is not the time to be complacent.
As we continue our conversation around the quality of leadership, management of UNAIDS, and the performance of the Joint Programme, I ask you to remember two things: People still die of AIDS. And there remains a lot to do.
Tags: 44th PCB Meeting