As the largest gathering of experts on HIV/AIDS meets for the XVIII International AIDS conference, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance is launching a new campaign to target resources more efficiently to prevent additional people becoming infected with HIV.
The campaign asks “what’s preventing prevention?” and is calling for donors and governments to invest in HIV prevention that is efficient, cost effective and targets the right people.
Alvaro Bermejo, Executive Director of the Alliance said, “The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a tragedy for millions of people and a costly time-bomb for families, governments and donors. For every two people who get treatment, 5 others get infected. At this rate, spending for HIV will raise from $13 billion now to between $19 and $35 billion in just 20 years time.
“If national AIDS programmes made the difficult decisions, addressed the barriers that are preventing marginalised groups from accessing services and targeted resources at those most affected they could cut more new infections and still have savings to put into scaling up treatment,” he said.
Delegates at the conference will be invited to share what they believe are the key issues on “what’s preventing prevention?”
Prevention resources are most effective when they are targeted at those most vulnerable and at risk of HIV and must be alongside, not instead of strengthened treatment services. Those central to the response should participate in the design and implementation of HIV prevention programmes and take the lead at the community level.
“Currently only 10% of sex workers, men who have sex with men and drug users who need HIV prevention services receive them so there is a large unmet need. The cost effectiveness and efficiency of prevention programmes for those most vulnerable to HIV are too often hindered by repressive laws, policies, human rights violations and discrimination and exclusion,” said Bermejo.
In a survey among Alliance partners, men who have sex with men experience the most human rights violations, followed closely by sex workers and people living with HIV.
Bermejo added, “The Alliance is witnessing drug users in Ukraine harassed when trying to get substitution therapy and doctors prescribing it are jailed. Between January 2008 and July 2009 at least 200 transgender people have been killed. In Africa we are seeing an increasing trend to criminalise men who have sex with men such as in Uganda and Malawi. These violations make it very hard to reach at risk people with prevention services.”
To effectively reach people at risk of HIV, the legal, social and policy barriers that impede people from accessing HIV services must be removed and those most affected must be actively involved. A human rights based approach needs to be at the centre of HIV prevention programmes.
For interviews, photos and information contact: Sarah Wheeler at Vienna on +44 (0)7590 358391. firstname.lastname@example.org
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a tragedy for millions and a costly time-bomb for families, governments and donors.