While the delegation appreciates the report’s acknowledgement of the important role that civil society plays in ensuring equitable access to services, we would like to draw attention on the need to better articulate community engagement in the new response architecture.
Strengthening community systems remains a priority for the delegation. A strong civil society, adequately resourced and equipped remain central to successfully ending the AIDS pandemic. Moreover, civil society should be invited to play a key role in both the development and oversight of the systems response.
The delegation appreciates the contribution of the Russian Federation to the HIV response in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the three years partnership program between UNAIDS and Russia. At the same time, we get repeated messages from civil society and community organizations from the region that the program has been developed without a meaningful level of involvement of the civil society and, in particular, inclusion of key populations.
We propose to UNAIDS that an oversight committee which includes civil society, particularly key population representatives and other stakeholders is established to monitor the program so that it’s implemented in accordance with international public health and human rights standards.
The delegation would also like to raise concerns about the promotion innovations, including Tenofovir as an approach to reduce HIV risk among people who inject drugs as an outcome of recent trials.
Before making such recommendations, more data on the feasibility of tenofovir PreP outside the setting of a controlled trial is needed, especially in countries with low-income economies and/or repressive drug policies.
Regardless, tenofovir PreP should not be positioned as an alternative to internationally recognized standards of HIV prevention among people who inject drugs.
It is not and must not be a substitute for syringe exchange for persons who inject drugs. Today when access to harm reduction programs and opioid substitution treatment remains low in many countries, prioritizing tenofovir prep can give a wrong message to decision-makers, driving attention from the necessity of harm reduction and opiate substitution therapy.
The delegation would like to use this opportunity to join positive comments of the US and UK delegations, and congratulate UNODC with the progress they’ve achieved in building the partnership with civil society and community of people who use drugs.
Finally, we are grateful to the Executive Director for his recognition of the need to address the needs of people who are aging with HIV. This cannot be effectively achieved unless UNAIDS collects and reports data specific to this population. We urge that systems be implemented to do so.