The NGO Delegation expresses our sincere gratitude to the Secretariat for their commitment to the participation of civil society and communities in the development of the UNAIDS Strategy 2016-2021. This Updated Strategy, after all, is about us – people from key populations, communities most affected by the HIV pandemic that has cost millions of lives around the world. We need to make sure that, as we continue our discussions on the Strategy in this room, that you do not forget us in the process, and that you value our stories and our lived experiences.
Central to the framework of this Updated Strategy is the recognition of the rights of key populations, women in all diversity, young people, and other vulnerable populations, including migrants, incarcerated people, and indigenous peoples. We are not just numbers in your Excel sheets and registries. We are people. We have needs and aspirations. We have families. We have rights.
The theme for this Updated Strategy is the Fast Track approach, which means fast-tracking treatment coverage and access and faster delivery of combination prevention services, AND IT MEANS ALSO FAST-TRACKING EFFORTS TO END DISCRIMINATION; efforts which are often undermined.
In recognizing our human rights, we must not forget that when we talk about my right to access treatment services, we are talking about my right to bodily integrity. When we speak of my right to protect myself from harm, I am exercising my right to free myself from violence and discrimination. Unfortunately, our rights as key populations are seen in segments and not interlinked with each other. My sexual and reproductive rights as a woman are as important as my other political, civil, social, and economic rights. My sexual and reproductive rights are my fundamental human rights.
Every minute, a young woman is infected with HIV. Every hour, a young gay man and a transgender woman are infected with HIV. Every hour, a young person who uses drugs and a young sex worker are denied access to harm reduction services. Every hour, a woman with HIV faces cruelty from health care workers because she is pregnant; a couple with HIV is denied family planning services. Every hour, a woman with HIV is forcibly sterilized. Everywhere, people living with disabilities are denied access to sexual and reproductive health services due to inaccessible healthcare centres and discrimination by healthcare workers.
The question is not how recognizing sexual and reproductive rights will end AIDS. The question is when are you going to recognize our sexual and reproductive rights so that we can end AIDS.
Like Tanzania, we in the NGO Delegation had considered asking to reopen the strategy beyond the discussion of sexual and reproductive health and rights. But in the spirit of collaboration and solidarity, we agree that the strategy should be closed tonight so that we can move forward with implementation to fully meet our communities’ needs.