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– CSO urges UN

The civil society organizations are urging member states of the United Nations and partners to ensure that response to HIV is fully funded, and that financing for community-led action is increased significantly over the next few years. Speaking at an informal interactive Civil Society hearing on HIV, the CSOs also called for access to life-saving HIV treatment by 30 million people by 2020, as well as for ambitious HIV prevention targets to be met.

The hearing, convened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America, by the President of the United Nations General Assembly, was part of the groundwork for the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS to take place from 8 to 10 June 2016 in New York. 

The hearing provides an opportunity for civil society organizations to fully contribute to the preparations as a way of ensuring that their voices are heard, and that their interests are reflected and recommendations are taken forward in the drafting of the new Political Declaration on Ending AIDS.

“We are aligned in our objectives of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” said Mogens Lykketoft – President of the United Nations General Assembly. “Now, we must work together to ensure a strong Political Declaration on Ending AIDS with clear targets that will lead the world to ending the AIDS epidemic as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Representatives of civil society emphasized the need to reach the people most affected by HIV, who continue to be left behind in the AIDS response, including sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people and people who inject drugs. The representatives also discussed the importance of ensuring an inclusive rights-based approach based on evidence and people-centered during the interactive panel discussions with Member States.

“To end the AIDS epidemic, no one can be left behind,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Civil society advocacy, engagement and service delivery will play a critical role in translating the targets of the Political Declaration on Ending AIDS into real action on the ground to reach even the most marginalized people with life-saving HIV services.”

The UNAIDS Executive Director indicated that community efforts have proven to be essential in overcoming many of the major challenges in the AIDS response, including reaching people most affected by HIV with life-changing HIV services, providing support to help people adhere to their treatment and bolstering other essential health services. Civil society engagement has also been critical in advocating for new resources, improving HIV programming and making progress on human rights issues.

“The cost of inaction is extremely high,” said Marama Pala of the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV/AIDS and Co-Chair of the Stakeholder Task Force. “Individual communities are where the work gets done. There is no ending AIDS without us.”

UNAIDS has estimated that US$ 26.2 billion will be needed for the AIDS response in low- and middle-income countries in 2020—up from the US$ 19.2 billion available in 2014. UNAIDS also emphasized that greater investment in civil society advocacy and community-based service delivery will be critical,

indicating that by 2020, investment in community mobilization needs to increase threefold, to 3% of total HIV resources in low- and middle-income countries. It said outreach to key populations in low- and middle-income countries is estimated to need to grow to about 7.2% of total HIV investments by 2020, and the estimated resource needs for community-based delivery of antiretroviral therapy need to increase to about 3.8% of total investment for HIV.

The Informal Interactive Civil Society Hearing on HIV included representatives of nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, organizations and networks representing people living with HIV, women, adolescents and young people, and other stakeholders.

-Edited by George Barpeen

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