Delivered by Aditia Taslim Lim, NGO Asia-Pacific on behalf of the NGO Delegation
Thank you Chair. I would like to begin my statement with a personal story. I started using drugs when I was 12. At 14, I started injecting heroin, often picking up used needles. Back then, heroin was easier to find than needles.
At 16, my parents would accompany me to psychiatrists and doctors. If not, I would not have been able to access the services. I was asked to get tested, but I refused. A year later, I was diagnosed with hepatitis-C, and was told to do an HIV test. Again, I refused. Only after I turned 18, I got tested, without my parents’ approval. Since then, I have lived with HIV. I am 35 now.
This story is from 20 years ago, but the reality remains the same today. Young people continue to be denied access to services because of age of consent laws. And many, never return to services.
UBRAF reports 88% of the 33 Fast Track Countries have adopted supportive SRH policies for adolescent and young people. However, age of consent laws to access SRH services are still in place; 52% in Asia Pacific, 53% in East and South Africa, 92% in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 59% in Latin America, 90% in the Caribbean, 58% in Middle East and North Africa, 61% in West and Central Africa and 57% in Western Europe and North America.
If we are serious in reaching the last mile, this must change.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a new reality. The Joint Programme focuses on integrating HIV in national emergency preparedness and response, but none of us were prepared. I applaud UNAIDS for pushing countries to provide 3 to 6 months supply of ARV, but this is not the case in Indonesia. This month, I was given one-week, two-week and another one-week supply of my ARV. This also happened earlier in January and November last year. We are living in fear of going to the clinic, not knowing how much ARV we will get.
A recent WHO study found 12 of 18 countries showing evidence on pre-treatment drug resistance beyond the 10% threshold. UBRAF reports 95% of 88 countries have policies and strategies for ART retention and adherence. But having policies and strategies in place is not enough. With the current state in my country, for instance, I fear more people will have treatment disruption and never return to services.
UBRAF indicators alone, do not tell us the full story. As UNAIDS is embarking on the next strategy, let’s rethink what we are measuring. We need to get the right numbers and data. And behind those numbers and data, there are names and people. We need to bring the stories to the table. We need to ensure transparency and G/MIPA should remain in the core of the process.
Tags: 46th PCB Meeting