31st UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board Meeting
NGO Delegates for Europe
4. Combination Prevention: Follow-up to the thematic segment from the 30th Programme Coordinating Board meeting (pdf)
The NGO Delegation would like to thank the UNAIDS Secretariat for a comprehensive report of the thematic on Combination Prevention. The NGO Delegation was very happy to be able to participate in the planning and execution of the thematic day. Especially we thank the PCB Bureau and the member states to allow for young people to organize one of the 4 break-out sessions at the 30th PCB. We truly hope that the next thematic segment which will carry the theme of young people and HIV, will be organized with meaningful engagement and participation of young people themselves.
We commend the summary report for mentioning explicitly the prevention needs of key affected populations, and the importance of addressing the social and legal barriers to preventing concentrated epidemics among men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, and transgender people.
The NGO delegation also welcomes the report’s acknowledgement of the role of people living with HIV, of community mobilization, and of the role of civil society in designing and carrying out effective combination prevention programs.
The summary emphasized the need for more knowledge about which specific elements of social behavior programs work. The delegation welcomes any effort to base combination prevention on strong evidence, and stresses the importance of program evaluation and implementation science in contributing to strong evidence.
The NGO delegation would also like to draw the PCB’s attention to well established evidence supporting the HIV prevention potential benefits of comprehensive sexuality education, pre/post test counselling, Opioid Substitution Therapy and syringe exchange programs, which are under-resourced despite the strong evidence for their broad-based public health adoption. Likewise, the full preventive potential of male and female condoms has yet to be seen, and scale up of community-based HIV testing is still largely required. In fact, access to female condoms is an issue that was widely discussed at the thematic day but not reflected in the report.
The report describes the time lag between the Global North and South in the speed with which scientific advances are implemented. The NGO delegation would like to emphasize the positive role that governments and other donors can play by supporting research in new prevention technologies that specifically plan for access for those in greatest need when considering product profile, costing models, and intellectual property issues.
The goal of zero new infections will require a better, enriched prevention tool box with a fuller range of improved prevention methods such as microbicides and an HIV vaccine that better address the specific needs of those at greatest risk of HIV infection especially among women, young girls, and key affected populations.
On a final note, we would like to emphasize that to be motivated to take up prevention strategies and to access the available biomedical tools, humans need to have hope for their futures. When we face gross injustice, poverty, violence and lack of opportunities or basic rights, then our incentive to protect our health diminishes. Neither behavior change programs nor a complete set of biomedical tools will end AIDS without access to hope for a future with dignity, respect of human rights, and opportunity.
6.2 Call on governments to work with research institutions in public and private sectors, and with civil society, especially people living with and affected by HIV, to identify and mitigate the key barriers – in particular the human resource and systems weaknesses – to the implementation of existing prevention technologies and advances in HIV science in all settings and to plan for access when undertaking research and development of new preventive tools
6.7 Call for governments to invest in the development of new prevention technologies such as microbicides and a vaccine against HIV to complement the existing biomedical and social prevention tools in order to better address the diverse needs of those at risk of HIV infection;