High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS: Civil Society Calls UN Declaration “A Globally Sanctioned Death Warrant for Key Populations”

The High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS opened today at the United Nations in New York. However, many global civil society organizations – including the Kingston-based Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) – are not happy with the 2016 Political Declaration, which they say does not include key at-risk populations. Here is their press release, dated today. You can read more about the UNAIDS meeting here: http://www.hlm2016aids.unaids.org/index.php/en/home/


June 8th, 2016
For Immediate Release


(Kingston, Jamaica) – From June 8-10, 2016, world leaders, government representatives, HIV programme implementers and civil society organizations from across the world are gathering for the High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS (HLM) to chart the way forward to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. The HLM will result in a 2016 Political Declaration: On the Fast-Track to End the AIDS Epidemic. The draft Declaration currently has some positives, including 75 action-oriented provisions and measurable and time-bound targets. It will be used as the basis of negotiations by member states to finalize the Declaration for its adoption at the HLM.

Notwithstanding the positive elements, civil society organizations worldwide are alarmed by its major and unacceptable deficiencies and have rejected the draft due to its glaring exclusion of key populations, such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs, migrants, transgender people, and prisoners. There will be no ending AIDS by 2030 without a concerted effort to address the needs and Human Rights of those groups currently marginalized and stigmatized.

Civil society groups view the draft’s present weaknesses as tantamount to a death warrant for key populations and are calling on States to strengthen the Declaration with the following overarching priorities to ensure it is effective and accessible:

  • Strengthen language on key populations and delete language that stigmatizes key populations
  • Retain language on human rights, gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, and paragraph 43 on harm reduction
  • Strengthen language on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual rights
  • Strengthen language on funding for civil society

Specifically, civil society organisations are stressing changes to the On the Fast-Track to End the AIDS Epidemic draft declaration in the following areas:

  • Harm reduction and key populations to include: harm reduction programmes, opioid substitution therapy, and other relevant interventions that prevent the transmission of HIV with key populations as defined by UNAIDS. The language “acquire” and “higher risk” is stigmatizing and inaccurate: the actual data is about HIV prevalence (number of people living with), not incidence (number of new infections) in these communities. Revert back to the source of this language, UNAIDS strategy, which says “living with.”
  • Comprehensive Sexuality Education: to ensure that all women and girls can exercise their right to have control over, and decide freely and responsibly on, matters related to their sexuality; Commit to accelerate efforts to scale up scientifically accurate age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education, with information on human sexuality; Commit to accelerate efforts to scale up scientifically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education following the UNESCO International Technical Guidance on Sexuality education.
  • Funding for civil society: to include investments in young people, women and girls and key populations.

The exclusion of key populations runs the risk of taking the global HIV epidemic backwards. Civil society groups consider this an outrage and as such are increasing their push for as many member states as possible to not sign the Declaration at the HLM this week.

Read the full 2016 Political Declaration On the Fast-Track to End the AIDS Epidemichttp://sgreport.unaids.org/pdf/20160423_SGreport_HLM_en.pdf

Join the discussion on social media using the hashtag #HLM2016AIDS

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Carolyn Gomes
Executive Director, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC)
1 (876) 382-8583 (Dr. Gomes mobile; available by SMS)
1 (876) 631-7299 (CVC Office)

Executive Director of J-FLAG Dane Lewis (center) participating in a discussion at the Ford Foundation on the first day of the 2016 High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS. (Photo: J-FLAG)
Executive Director of J-FLAG Dane Lewis (center) participating in a discussion at the Ford Foundation on the first day of the 2016 High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS. (Photo: J-FLAG)

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