The resolution recognises that a rights-based approach is crucial in efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and requests the European Commission and the Council to meet their commitments and step up efforts to address AIDS as a global public health priority, with human rights as a central aspect of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support.
Alvaro Bermejo, Alliance Executive Director said: “The resolution sends a very strong signal for the European Union to adopt a rights-based approach to HIV/AIDS, something that had been missing in the past.’
‘It is a major contribution to the acknowledgement by the donor community of the fact that AIDS is more than a health issue, because of the stigma and discrimination faced by key populations such as people living with HIV and men having sex with men.’
In the Parliament debate on this issue, Baroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy & Vice-President of the European Commission, said: “The spread of HIV continues to cause considerable suffering. The impact of HIV is worse in situations where human rights are not respected [and] in countries where homosexuality is criminalised, some face the additional fear of imprisonment and, in extreme cases, even the death penalty.’
Stop AIDS Alliance’s role
Stop AIDS Alliance, a joint initiative of the Alliance and STOP AIDS NOW!, was instrumental in securing the adoption of the resolution. Stop AIDS Alliance worked closely with Michael Cashman MEP to build support among political groups in the Parliament and contributed to the drafting process, with coordinated input from the Alliance secretariat, STOP AIDS NOW! and other partners.
Michael Cashman said: ‘There is no way we would have secured such strong support in the European Parliament for this resolution without the expertise and hard work of Stop AIDS Alliance and other civil society organisations. Stop AIDS Alliance is key in helping the EU lead the fight against HIV/AIDS, especially in developing countries, and I look forward to continuing to build close cooperation with them.’
Key points in resolution
• Funding to HIV/AIDS needs to be increased with human rights at the centre of decisions - the resolution calls on the EU and the Member States to increase spending on health and AIDS by allocating at least 20% of all development spending to basic health and education and increasing their contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as well as other
programmes designed to strengthen health systems and community systems.
• Address punitive laws and practices against key populations - the resolution calls on the EU to address the major economic, legal, social and technical barriers, as well as punitive laws and practices against key populations such as men having sex with men, which impede effective responses to HIV. In particular, the European Commission is requested to support national governments, and engage civil society, in improving the poor level of coverage of programmes to fight the stigmatisation of, and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and other key populations.
• Renew the European Programme for Action to Confront HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis through External Action – the resolution requests the Commission and the Members States to initiate a broad consultative process for the continuation of the European Programme for Action to Confront HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis beyond 2012.
Speaking on the importance of this resolution, Michael Cashman MEP said: ‘There is quite clearly so much more we need to do. We need to empower individuals about the choices they have. That is why I am particularly pleased that we have made reference to those groups of people [men who have sex with men, transgender people] who are primarily affected.’
In her concluding remarks in the Parliament, Baroness Ashton said: ‘I am confident that the International AIDS Conference in Vienna will help us to move forward in enforcing the rights of people to be protected against avoidable HIV infections…I want to assure [the Parliament] that we will maintain and increase our dedication to defending these rights inside Europe.’
Stop AIDS Alliance is key in helping the EU lead the fight against HIV/AIDS.