46th PCB - Intervention by Jules Kim - Report of the Executive Director

Delivered by Jules Kim, NGO Asia Pacific, on behalf of the NGO Delegation

The NGO delegation thanks ED Winnie Byanyima for her report and the work of UNAIDS under her leadership. We want to applaud Winnie for emphasizing the underlying drivers and inequalities that continue to drive up new infections and unnecessary AIDS-related deaths. In particular we thank Winnie for raising up the importance of addressing intellectual property issues in ensuring equitable access to medicines for all.

We all acknowledge that this has indeed been an unfortunate time of crisis that has deeply affected many. But it is also a time that we must not forget the unfinished business of the ongoing public health crisis of HIV and AIDS. Unfortunately, what we have witnessed is an increase in human rights violations, escalating stigma and discrimination and targeting of key populations including sex workers, people who use drugs, people living with HIV, LGBTIQ people and we have seen an ever widening chasm in the health inequalities for the very communities most affected by HIV and AIDS. We are witnessing a situation where we are not just being left behind, but our communities are being decimated.

In many regions, we have seen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to critical life saving services, ART and testing. We have seen how already scarce resources, including human resources in the response to HIV and AIDS, have been reprogrammed to COVID-19 without adequate community consultation or warning. Our colleague from Latin America has shared in her statement the story of the deaths of many people living with HIV in her country, Bolivia, while awaiting access to prevention, treatment and care, especially in securing the supply chain of HIV medications and prevention commodities which is not secure for many of us. These long-fought and necessary means of survival were severely impacted in a matter of months of the COVID-19 outbreak in many regions across the world.

Without continued vigilance, resourcing, effort, and focus, the rates of new HIV infections and AIDS related deaths can escalate. This is a critical juncture that reminds us that we cannot lose ground and momentum. It remains vital to ensure that communities are at the centre, to promote rights-based approaches, and to address the structural and regulatory determinants of health to ensure responses to HIV are strengthened and not lost in responses to COVID-19. We remain vigilant and hopeful that Winnie will lead the UNAIDS we need to meet ambitious HIV targets in this challenging environment.

We wish to take this opportunity to urge member states to continue their support for UNAIDS and for MS and the Joint Programme to work with us to ensure that the response to COVID-19 is not to the detriment of the HIV response, we must not leave HIV behind.


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