New York, 09/06/2016 – In the run up to the High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, 22 NGOs serving key populations most at risk of HIV (sex workers, people who inject drugs, transgender people, prisoners, gay men and other men who have sex with men) were denied accreditation to attend. Civil society advocates argue that the latest version of the HLM Political Declaration falls significantly short by not including critical language on respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights of men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, sex workers, and transgender people; and to ending marginalization and criminalization of these groups.
The governments of the world, despite sweeping commitments in other fora, have remained cravenly or complicitly silent on demands from some states to remove necessary language that commits countries to recognizing and expanding access for the populations most impacted by HIV. The current version of the 2016 Political declaration sets some bold targets around ending the epidemic, including expanding access to treatment and prevention services. But many of the same governments committing to bold targets around treatment and prevention have made moves to de-prioritize the HIV response and have failed to ensure the resources required.
The negotiation towards the final draft of the Political Declaration for this HLM has continued since Russia has broken the silence and called for some changes, but civil society activists fear that countries who are advocating bigotry will continue to undermine the development of a declaration that is based on the basic tenet of Human Rights – the equal respect for all human beings.
Civil society is calling on governments to show courage in the face of those who would divide with prejudice and hatred; to ensure the incorporation of important commitments on advancing the rights of key populations; and to move from rhetoric to action. They are also calling for the delivery of a political declaration and financial commitments that will make reaching the fast track 2020 target and the final goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, a reality.
Source: Amirah Sequeira | Associate Director, International Campaigns and Communications, Health Global Access Project