The global fight against new HIV Infections

This blog post was written by Revati Chawla, Lead-Prevention Programming at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance’s mission is to put communities at the centre of the  HIV/AIDS response in order to provide effective local solutions; as they work  to end AIDS through community action. They are a 2018 Global Health Council Member.

 

In July 2018, the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam brought together organisations, researchers, scientists and activists from across the globe to discuss new advances and priority areas to tackle the HIV epidemic.

The global fight against new HIV infections

A week earlier, UNAIDS warned that the HIV response is off-track, with new infections in 2017 remaining stubbornly high at 1.8 million. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance is part of the Global Prevention Coalition, which supports efforts to accelerate HIV prevention and reduce the level of new infections in countries most affected by the epidemic as set out in the HIV Prevention 2020 Road Map. The Roadmap charts a course for countries to achieve the global HIV primary prevention goals. Its headline target is to reduce new HIV infections by 75% from 2010 figures, to less than 500,000 per year by 2020. However, UNAIDS’ first progress report monitoring the implementation of the Road Map, released in May, shows that progress has been slow.

Communities speak out on limited progress 

A series of shadow reports launched by the Alliance at AIDS 2018 provides an assessment of how each country is progressing against the 10-point action plan outlined in the Roadmap. Focusing on six countries – India, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Ukraine and Zimbabwe – the reports paint a picture of inconsistent engagement with civil society groups and little movement on the implementation of new accountability mechanisms that include community-based monitoring tools and initiatives. There is also an urgent need to address structural barriers, such as laws that criminalise drug use, sex work and same-sex behaviour that prevent people from accessing the services they want and need. For young people, laws requiring parental consent for HIV testing or access to SRHR services further impacts their right to health. Weak engagement with community groups and slow progress to reform outdated laws risk undermining efforts towards the HIV Prevention 2020 Roadmap.

The Alliance’s shadow reports are a critical tool for communities to advocate to governments and donors to ensure HIV prevention receives adequate funding and that progress is not derailed by limited engagement with the communities most affected by the epidemic.

Addressing the funding gap

In a satellite session convened by the Alliance during the conference, representatives from governments, civil society and global health organisations, reflected on the current status of HIV prevention efforts and discussed the reports’ findings. Speaking out on the decisions made by governments and donors to prioritise finance for HIV treatment over prevention, Grace Kumwenda from PAKACHERE, a community based organisation in Malawi, said, “It’s not an either/or choice. Treatment should be funded, but prevention should also be funded equally. At the rate we are going now, we will not meet the 2020 prevention targets.”

Recommendations

The shadow reports highlight clear gaps in community involvement in the HIV response in the six countries featured. Patchy progress and weak engagement with community groups risks undermining efforts towards the HIV Prevention 2020 Roadmap

We must continue to assess progress in this area because if we are to meet global targets on prevention, governments must involve communities to develop effective responses for those most at risk of acquiring HIV and provide adequate resources to ensure their participation. 

About the Alliance

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance was founded in 1993 to support community groups in countries that were most affected by the global AIDS crisis. We offered a vision and a way of working that would put communities at the centre of the response in order to provide effective local solutions. We now work with communities in over 40 countries to take local, national and global action on HIV, health and human rights.

Learn more about the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.