USAID and Global Partners Participate in the 2016 UN High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS

Photo of people holding cards supporting #HLM2016AIDS
Photo credit: United Nations

June 10, 2016

The United Nations (UN) high-level meeting spotlighted the global community’s successes in fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic and outlined the path to achieve a world free from AIDS by 2030.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) joined partners, world leaders, and HIV/AIDS advocates on June 8–10, 2016, at UN Headquarters in New York City for the 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS.

The meeting focused on the adoption of the UNAIDS Fast-Track Approach to End AIDS [PDF, 365KB] over the next 5 years. The Fast-Track Approach aims to achieve ambitious HIV/AIDS targets by 2020, including:

  • Less than 500,000 people newly infected with HIV
  • Less than 500,000 people dying from AIDS-related causes
  • Elimination of HIV-related discrimination

Achieving these targets through global partnership is critical to reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goal target of ending AIDS by 2030.

Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Prpgram on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Michel Sidibé said, “The world has an opportunity to end an epidemic that has defined public health for a generation. The decisions made here, including the commitment to zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero discrimination, will provide the springboard for the implementation of an innovative, evidence-informed and socially just agenda that will end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”

Attendees called for accelerated prevention, treatment, care and support programs that will help reduce new infections and increase life expectancy, quality of life, and the dignity of all people living with, at risk of, and affected by HIV/AIDS and their families.

Governments in attendance adopted the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS [PDF, 398KB] at the opening plenary of the High-Level Meeting. The declaration set out specific time-bound targets to eliminate HIV/AIDS by 2030. Controversy around the language existed, specifically around language referencing sex education, birth control, and men who have sex with men. Some countries were outraged with the inclusion of such language, while others felt that it did not adequately represent, or support the rights of, those most vulnerable and stigmatized.

The U.S. Government released a statement of position clarifying that, “The United States remains firmly committed to ending stigma, discrimination, and violence against persons living with HIV/AIDS and key populations and to help to create legal and policy environments which increase their access to HIV prevention and treatment services... To control the epidemic and, ultimately, achieve an AIDS-free generation, it is imperative that we identify, measure, and change the complex dynamics driving stigma and discrimination, and encourage innovative, tailored, community-led approaches to address them for each risk group.”

On day two of the meeting, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) announced a new $100 million investment fund to expand access to proven HIV prevention and treatment services for key populations, such as sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender persons, and injectable drug users. The Investment Fund aims to address specific barriers that often exclude key populations from the global HIV/AIDS response. These include the lack of:

  • Acceptance of human rights of all persons, without distinction;
  • Systematic and rigorous measurement and monitoring of stigma and discrimination and clear actions to mitigate;
  • Access to quality services for key populations;
  • Availability of disaggregated data by key populations; and
  • Focus on improving the capacity of key populations-led community-based organizations not only to advocate for changes in policies but also to directly implement services.

PEPFAR has committed to consulting closely with civil society and key populations in the design and implementation of the Investment Fund, in an effort to properly address the priority challenges faced by key populations in accessing quality HIV services.

“We will only end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 if no one is left behind,” said U.S. global AIDS coordinator, Ambassador Deborah L. Birx. “It is unacceptable that key populations still face stigma, discrimination, and violence, which impede their ability to access quality HIV services.”

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