Delivered by Alexander Pastoors, Europe NGO Delegate
Thank you Chair,
We thank the Secretariat for the effort to give the PCB overview of the current state of the HIV epidemic. UBRAF contains a wealth of information about almost every aspect of the elimination of HIV and AIDS. It shows us where we’re on track – but also where we fail and where key populations are continuously left behind despite promises of many member states and UN Agencies that they would do everything in their power to prevent exactly that.
Let’s be frank: the reality is still shocking and inequality continues to feed this epidemic. As a gay man living with HIV and thus a member of a key population, I know how important good quality data is for community engagement and advocacy. It is imperative that harmful policies of member states, like criminalising HIV transmission, sex work or drug use, need to be amended or abolished. We have to show the detrimental effects of such policies on the lives of people living with HIV. In many countries, we can only fight for that with policymakers based on data. So it is concerning that, at this point in history, besides fighting for accurate data, many governments are not considering their epidemic’s key populations when defining their budget and allocating funds. UBRAF is quintessential in holding member states and UN organizations accountable for the targets they agreed on in the 2016 Political Declaration to End AIDS as a public health threat by or before 2030.
However, UBRAF also shows us only one side of the coin due to the way targets are formulated. Although many indicators appear to be in the green zone and exceed the 2019 milestone, the reality is often very different. 93% out of the 90 countries that supplied data for UBRAF have adopted the treat all policy which, in itself, is a fantastic achievement. But simply adopting the WHO treat all guidelines doesn’t deliver ART magically to people who need it. If I would live in Indonesia instead of the Netherlands, 85% of my friends would not be on treatment although both countries have similar treatment guidelines. We appreciate the work done in Venezuela, but I want to stress that it had to take massive pressure from civil society for the UN to act AND people are still dying in Venezuela.
Furthermore, we see that some indicators, specifically those about sexual and reproductive health and rights, are exceeding 2019 milestones, yet we know they are either stagnant or continuously on the decline since 2016.
Mister Chair, as many of my colleagues have already stated, this is no time for complacency. UBRAF is a wake-up call for those under the impression that we are on track to reach our 2020 targets. We are leaving too many key populations and women and girls, including adolescent girls, behind. It is high time that Member States, the Joint Programme, and the Cosponsors redouble efforts in putting the last mile first in reaching the most marginalized populations in the effort to eliminate AIDS by 2030. We won’t accept excuses for failing on that. You can do better.
Photo from UNAIDS Communications and Global Advocacy
Tags: 44th PCB Meeting, UBRAF