At a time when complacency, discrimination and severe budget cuts are undermining the fight against HIV both globally and nationally, APCOM is joining other civil society organisations, governments, development partners and United Nations agencies in Durban, South Africa for the 21st International AIDS Conference.
“For us, on behalf of the many constituencies we seek to serve and support, AIDS 2016 is an opportunity to issue both a plea, and a warning,” says Midnight Poonkasetwattana, APCOM Executive Director. “A plea to donors and the United Nations system alike to sustain and strengthen our collective efforts to truly bring about an end to AIDS, as envisioned by UNAIDS and others in bold statements and pledges – and a warning that all our work could be nullified unless we strategically capitalize on the hard-won gains made in recent years, and convert political indifference and diminishing budgets into renewed commitment and action.”
AIDS 2016 – with its theme of “Access Equity Rights Now” — comes at an especially critical time, barely a month after the 2016 Political Declaration on Ending AIDS issued by UN member states failed to adequately acknowledge the ongoing HIV crisis across key populations globally, including men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, and transgender people – driven by politically-motivated stigma and discrimination. The Declaration contained a pledge to end AIDS by 2030, but undercut that aspiration by ignoring clear evidence that the epidemic is escalating in key populations in regions including Asia and the Pacific, and especially among young people who have been long denied access to HIV education, prevention, treatment and care.
“While we are deeply disappointed by this and other recent developments, this is not a time to retreat but to press forward, renew our call for action, and reinvigorate alliances and partnerships to address these challenges for our communities, friends and loved ones,” says Poonkasetwattana.
“To this end, APCOM has a planned a full agenda at AIDS 2016, and we invite those headed to Durban to join us at our events before and during the conference -and dialogue with us on how best to move forward together to achieve the overarching goal of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda – leave no one behind.”
APCOM in Durban: Aims, Highlights and Key Sessions
APCOM’s objectives at AIDS 2016 reflect the overall aims of the conference itself:
- Promote HIV responses in Asia and the Pacific that are supported by and tailored to the needs of the community and key populations including young MSM and young transgender people;
- Promote community mobilisation in Asia and the Pacific that holds leaders and government accountable and increases their commitment to an evidence- and human rights-based HIV response;
- Establish new partnerships, and strengthen existing ones, between community and technical partners to:
- Renew commitment and advocate for increased political will and domestic financing on HIV and creation of enabling environments for MSM and transgender people; and
- Advocate for the introduction of innovative HIV prevention and testing methods at country level.
We’re packing a lot of exciting sessions into just a few days. As vital and urgent as all our work is, it’s also important to enjoy the solidarity and togetherness that AIDS 2016 provides,” concludes Poonkasetwattana.