by Ben Plumley – CEO, Pangaea Global AIDS
(an international technical cooperation agency based in USA and Zimbabwe)
Firstly, thank you to the PCB NGO delegation for sponsoring me to make a short intervention.
I would like to commend the UNAIDS cosponsor lead agency on treatment, WHO, for its 2013 comprehensive HIV treatment guidelines, which are possibly the most important milestone in the AIDS response in 2013, and which call for gold standard treatment for all people with HIV in need, regardless of where they live, and regardless of what age they are. International technical cooperation agencies, networks of people with HIV and their supporters, will work closely with all partners to help implement and sustain these standards of care.
However, the global AIDS epidemic is far from over. Many of us consider that it remains one of the greatest health, social and economic challenges of our generation. The response must be integrated into other health and social priorities, but the sustained and strategic use of ARVs will be a central component of a long term response: Such a response needs to provide life saving medicines for all those in need throughout their lives, and will help us prevent a second wave of epidemics. It is a response that must be sustained throughout the life times of all of us in this room, if not also those of our children.
We urge UNAIDS PCB to ensure that the Joint Program prioritizes access to ARVs in treatment and where, appropriate, in prevention in its advocacy, policy and technical assistance. This should be
a) Evidence informed,
b) Rooted in the human rights of people living with and at risk of HIV, and
c) Designed to strengthen the national ownership of citizens and the authorities which they elect to represent them, particularly as it relates to health service delivery at facility and community levels.
Specific strategies have to be developed for girls and women, and key populations such as Men who have sex with Men, Injection Drug Users and Sex Workers. Very simply without strategies designed for and with these communities, there will be no long-term successful AIDS response.
There is cause of optimism, for example the Zimbabwe AIDS response which is well on its way to provide universal access to all its citizens in need of ARVs by 2016. For the global solidarity needed to support country leadership, the continued support of the US people for PEPFAR is an example.
One comment about the pricing of ARVs. There is some emerging experience that the pricing of the fixed dose combination of tenofovir, lamivudine and efavirenz produced by generic manufacturers may be higher than the price of the individual components. This would go against public commitments made by originator and generics companies, and will hinder national and global funding efforts to scale up treatment. We hope that UNAIDS, through its UCCs, its partners, including the Global Fund, UNITAID and PEPFAR, monitor this closely.