By Kevin Osborne (IPPF)
Thirty years since the United States Centers for Disease Control issued its first warning about a rare form of pneumonia among a small group of young gay men, ten years since the landmark United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS, and five years since the political commitments towards universal access to prevention treatment, care and support: the AIDS response is at a crossroads.
Leaders from government and civil society will gather at the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS in New York from the 8-10 June to review the progress and chart the future course of the global AIDS response. Efforts made over the past decade are now having an impact: global and country action is making a tangible difference as universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support has increased. While not all the inspirational targets have been met, this trend is an encouraging sign of what collective and focused action can accomplish.
However, ‘AIDS fatigue’ is becoming a worrying reality. In particular, political and financial commitment is stalling and many of the hard-won gains are under serious threat. It is vital that the 2011 High Level Meeting on AIDS re-commits to overcoming the remaining barriers to an effective country-owned, sustainable, and accountable HIV response. Now, more than ever, a strengthened response to HIV should not falter. Intensified action to address the prevention and treatment needs of pregnant mothers and their children (including early infant diagnosis) should be prioritized. Linking resources to the realities of the epidemic to meet the needs of men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and their clients, and people who use drugs should be guaranteed. Advocacy action on creating an enabling policy environment that supports HIV responses should be promoted and, in light of the ‘game-changing’ results from the recent ‘treatment as prevention’ trial, prevention options need to be scaled-up. Until gaps like these are adequately addressed, much work remains to be done in a unique partnership between governments, civil society and the private sector.
In advance of this meeting, it is important to reflect upon the current gaps and our niche within the global response to HIV. This month's issue of HIV Update highlights the four key messages that IPPF delegates at the High Level Meeting will be promoting in our work with and in country delegation teams. Currently, the IPPF Member Associations in the following countries have already been invited to be part of their official country delegation teams: Belgium, Belize, Djibouti, Mali, Mauritania, Rwanda, Swaziland and Sweden. Our continued focus on the human rights approaches inherent in all prevention, treatment and care responses underpins all aspects of the epidemic and remains a much needed voice in the global arena. Words matter and actions count. While politics may eventually dictate the final negotiated outcome of the High Level Meeting; it is imperative that we raise our voices and strategically strengthen our actions.
Download the June issue of the IPPF HIV Update newsletter: http://www.ippf.org/en/Resources/Newsletters/HIV+Update+Issue+26.htm