In London: young people and HIV
On a cold, sunny, winter morning in central London, young people were out in force to mark World AIDS Day and let passers-by know that the fight to end HIV and AIDS is not over.
Students Partnership Worldwide, Student Stop AIDS Societies and the Stop AIDS Campaign got crowds warmed up by teaching them a dance routine with an accompanying HIV chant to get across their message that young people are very much affected by HIV.
Dhiren is 16 and one of the dancers. “HIV is not just a UK problem, it’s around the world, and we have to stand together. Even if we’re better off, somewhere else doesn’t have the resources we have,” he says.
Mike Forster, Minister for International Development, lent UK government support to the event. In his speech he told the crowd that young people “have a crucial role to play”. Nearly half the world’s population is under 25 and he encouraged them to take the lead on HIV.
“The world has made real progress over the last ten years in terms of getting people access to treatment but for every 2 people that do get treatment for HIV, another five get infected. So it’s really important that we don’t loose the emphasis and attention, and that’s what today is about,” he said.
The Alliance and Stop AIDS Campaign have been pushing for a patent pool to increase access to affordable medicines. The students’ campaigning activities have resulted in UK government and cross party support for a UNITAID Patent Pool.
In Brussels: HIV and reproductive rights
The Alliance’s Brussels partnership Stop AIDS Alliance ensured that the AIDS message was visible for European decision-makers as they ‘dressed’ the European Commission building with a huge red ribbon.
Breakfast briefings with MEPs were also organised to highlight the importance of linking sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV programmes in a strategic and systematic way, so the reproductive health needs of all people are met, including people living with HIV.
Attending MEPs agreed that there is no time for complacency in efforts to stop new HIV infections and they highlighted the importance of needing a strong global HIV prevention campaign, grounded in human rights.
In Washington: HIV and marginalised populations
In Washington the Alliance co-sponsored a UNAIDS lunchtime event to mark World AIDS Day with 26 civil society organisations, six UN agencies and the World Bank. US Congressional leaders Representative Jim McDermott and Representative John Conyers were both present. The Alliance showcased photos from its Unheard Voices, Hidden Lives project.
Speakers from Nigeria, Cameroon and the US urged for the protection of the human rights of marginalised groups such as men who have sex with men, injecting drug users and sex workers, and to strive to reach the goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
Jeff Sturchio, President of the Global Health Council presented a statement from 14 organisations including the Alliance to Michelle Maloney-Kitts, Assistant Coordinator at the Office of the Global AID Coordinator to highlight that the best way of fighting HIV is through community-led and country-driven interventions.
HIV is not just a UK problem, it’s around the world, and we have to stand together