Written by Alan Brotherton of the International AIDS Alliance
The Alliance policy team attended the 24th meeting of the UNAIDS programme coordinating board (PCB) held in Geneva on 23rd and 24th June, in the role of civil society observer.
This was the first meeting since Michel Sidibe took over from Peter Piot as UNAIDS executive Director and his report to the meeting was a clear, focused statement of intent to transform UNAIDS into a more efficient and effective organization, to increase results and their impact, and to optimize and expand partnerships. His speech recognized the importance of partnership with HIV positive people, and contained strong commitments to addressing human rights and prevention – including adding an additional, ninth, priority area to the recently released Outcome Framework for UNAIDS on reducing sexual transmission of HIV
Given the significance of the thematic day which preceded the formal meeting — ‘People on the Move’– and agenda items addressing the issues of injecting drug use, gender, and support for increased participation of African states, the Alliance supported the attendance of additional observers, Mat Southwell from the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) and the Alliance Africa regional representative, Baba Goumbala. INPUD was also represented by Erin O’Mara, whose attendance was supported by the World AIDS Campaign.
INPUD made a significant contribution to the meeting through their interventions on IDU issues. The final decision points and recommendations included statements requesting UNAIDS to work with governments to intensify efforts to address the HIV related needs of drug users, calling upon member states to further harmonise laws governing drug use and HIV, and encouraging governments to reaffirm commitment to, and intensify harm reduction efforts in relation to HIV.
The Alliance supported the NGO delegation in interventions in support of the proposal to enhance participation of African states and in securing a commitment to supporting the participation of civil society in processes proposed by the African member states working group.
Together with IPPF, we made an intervention in relation to the draft UNAIDS Action Framework: Addressing Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV. This recognised the challenges of producing a concise document which tries to address actions affecting 50% of the world’s population, acknowledged the significant investment made in consultation by the UNDP gender programme and urged the PCB to support piloting the framework, with a defined review period, rather than engage in further debate and delay in implementation.
The Alliance also organised a networking event for civil society representatives from organisations working with and formed by sex workers and drug users, to support their participation at the meeting and foster dialogue and partnerships. We were pleased also to see the attendance of our colleagues Monique van der Kroef and Marieke Ridder from Stop AIDS Now, our Dutch partner with whom we work in Brussels to influence EU policy on AIDS and development.