Yesterday, HRC joined more than 150 civil society advocates and organizations in expressing our shared disappointment in the recently adopted 2016 Political Declaration on Ending AIDS. While the international community has made significant progress toward ending the global HIV and AIDS epidemic, particularly with respect to mother-to-child transmission, we will not end the epidemic by ignoring the key populations most affected by it, including gay and bisexual men and transgender women.
The 2016 Declaration was adopted this week during the United Nations High-Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS. According to UN News Centre, the High-Level meeting brings together government officials, people living with HIV, and other members of civil society to build on previous commitments and to put the world on an accelerated path to ending the epidemic by 2030. But key populations have been excluded from the very beginning, as advocacy organizations representing gay and bisexual men, transgender women, sex workers, and other marginalized communities were barred from attending the meeting by certain Member States, including Russia.
Led by the International Council Of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO), the joint letter from civil society groups makes clear that “we are especially outraged with language [in the Declaration that] highlights victimization and blames key populations [for the epidemic] and fuels discrimination.” The letter also puts forward what the signatories believe to be a positive vision for ending the AIDS epidemic, including the need to protect and uphold human rights.
“The 2016 Declaration, while a step in the right direction, is not the bold, forward-looking document we need at this critical juncture,” said Noël Gordon Jr., HRC Senior Program Specialist for HIV Prevention and Health Equity. Gordon attended the meeting as one of several Private Sector Advisers to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. “We are especially grateful to U.S. Ambassadors Deborah Birx and Sarah Mendelson for explaining to the General Assembly why it is imperative that every country leave no one behind in the global fight to end HIV and AIDS.” The U.S. government backed up its words on Thursday with a newly announced $100 million Key Populations Investment Fund to expand access to proven HIV prevention and treatment services for key populations.