First of all, we would like to congratulate the organisers of the International AIDS Conference that took place in Durban, South Africa, from the 18 to 22 July, 2016. Thanks to their work, and the massive participation of civil society organisations, policy-makers, scientist and governments, the conference was a great success.
For Hivos, it was possible to connect with brave activists and inspiring professionals, coming from different parts of the world. We shared knowledge and experiences that will improve our programmes and open up new areas to keep up the fight against the HIV epidemic and make our societies more inclusive, open and resilient.
We feel it is necessary to reflect on the powerful messages of award-winning actress and South African native Charlize Theron had for the entire world in her speech during the opening ceremony of the conference. Her words were an eloquent reminder that we should envision a future where this type of conference is no longer needed:
“HIV is not just transmitted by sex. It is transmitted by sexism, racism, poverty and homophobia,”
(…) The real reason we haven’t beaten this epidemic boils down to one simple fact: We value some lives more than others. We value men more than women. Straight love more than gay love. White skin more than black skin. The rich more than the poor. And adults more than adolescents.
Her powerful truths resonate with the key message that Hivos brought to the conference: Exclusion Kills. If we do not address the underlying human rights issues, such as poverty, homophobia and inequality, that exacerbate the HIV and AIDS-related health problems of Key Populations, the HIV response will remain incomplete and the global targets set for 2030 will not be met.
We also share UNAIDS’s deep concern that diminishing resources, and donors who increasingly retreat from middle income countries where most People living with HIV are, will lead to a ten-fold increase in new HIV infections and eight times as many AIDS-related deaths by 2030.
But Hivos is convinced that we can put an end to AIDS with a combination of social innovation, fair and equal access to medicines and health services, and increasing external and domestic investments in projects for and by Key Populations. The Hivos HIV and Human Rights programme (2016-2020), uses these means to address and prioritise the needs of those who are most vulnerable. It works regionally in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Southern Africa, and has three country programmes in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Bolivia.
At the High Level Meeting plenary hosted by the African Union on 22 July, Svend Robinson, Senior Parliamentary Affairs Specialist at the Global Fund, praised Hivos as a long-standing and very important Global Fund partner and acknowledged our consistent work to combat the HIV epidemic. He applauded our adamant commitment to advance human rights around the world. We are proud to be able to assist the Global Fund and be one of their strong allies
Our experiences in Durban have filled us with inspiration, hope and determination. We look forward to the next edition of the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam 2018!
Inline photo top left: Presenting the new HIV and Human Rights programme. L: César Antonio Núñez (Regional Director, UNAIDS Latin America &Caribbean); C: José Henrique Zelaya (Country Representative, UNAIDS Mozambique); R: Mirjam Musch, HIV and Human Rights Programme Manager (Hivos)
Inline photo bottm: a number of Hivos team members in Durban at AIDS 2016