Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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UNGASS: Don’t stop now, finish the job!

28
APR
2011

Three children in Kenya. Their mother has TB and is receiving ARV therapy © Nell Freeman for the Alliance

This is the Alliance’s call to the international community as progress in the global AIDS response is being reviewed before the UN General Assembly High Level meeting taking place 8-10 June in New York.

The Alliance is advocating for governments to reaffirm their political commitment to responding to the HIV epidemic, to recommit to human rights at the centre of all HIV programmes and ensure adequate resourcing of HIV programmes.

Reducing political commitment, accountability mechanisms and resources for the HIV response now, means the progress we are making will be lost. And there is good progress.

The annual number of new infections has been steadily declining since its peak in the late 1990s and there are fewer AIDS-related deaths thanks to the significant scale up of antiretroviral treatment over the last few years.

But there is still a long way to go and we are nowhere near the universal access targets the international community committed to. The reality remains that worldwide only 36% of people in need of treatment have access to it. This means that globally over 9 million people who need treatment can’t get it and for every person starting treatment two others become infected.

Prevention services are still not receiving an adequate percentage of AIDS funding. Spending on HIV prevention is only a third of the amount required to end new HIV infections. What is funded is not reaching those most at risk of HIV, particularly men who have sex with men, people who use drugs and sex workers.

Alliance research into 51 countries shows only around 8% of all HIV prevention spending was targeted at the key populations most at risk of HIV.

Access to comprehensive care and support has not received the investment it needs and quality service coverage still remains woefully inadequate.

With just over five weeks till the international High Level Meeting on AIDS the Alliance is urging that the international community re-commit to achieving Universal Access by 2015.

The Alliance has seven key messages for the international community at this pivotal moment, you can read them here.

Any new text needs more specific goals based on country reviews where concrete outcomes could be achieved before the target date of 2015, for example the elimination of parent to child transmission and universal treatment access by everybody who needs it, including marginalised and criminalised communities.  

There is also a growing concern that some stakeholders are seeking to roll back some of the previous commitments such as those on human rights, anti-homophobia, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health rights. While many of these types of structural barriers still exist, scaling up to universal access will be prevented.

We need additional commitments to remove laws that criminalise behaviour, promote legislation to  counter stigma, discrimination and gender based violence, and mainstream human rights into  HIV programmes. The Alliance believes the focus needs to be on re-committing and building on previous commitments and not re-opening discussions.

A new 2011 Declaration of Commitment will only be meaningful if it has a strong accountability framework and countries are required to report on an annual basis. An increased focus on measuring impact and value for money of HIV programmes is important to increase their impact and make them more sustainable and affordable.

With the strong evidence that the HIV response has led to improved broader health outcomes, strategically investing in greater integration of HIV into broader health issues, health and community systems strengthening with a range of sectors including sexual and reproductive health, TB-HIV services, we can make faster progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This integration can capitalise on the cost efficiencies, innovation and grassroots activism often found in the HIV response.

Communities around the world are making an incredible contribution to tackling the epidemic but they need support both technical and financial. This month’s Loop highlights how the Alliance’s work is changing lives. It’s thanks to donors, politicians, health professionals, civil society and local communities collaborating that we can continue to make a difference. Let’s not let this opportunity pass us by. We must finish the job!

Read our new report 'Don't stop now, finish the job! Making HIV prevention funding work'.