Therefore, we join the PCB NGO Delegation in calling for UNAIDS to help countries gather age-, sex- and risk-disaggregated strategic information with meaningful engagement of civil societies and networks of PLHIV and key populations. Planning for the scale-up of adolescent ART, for example, requires an accurate, disaggregated estimate of the number of adolescents and young people eligible for treatment, based on the 2013 WHO guidelines, as well as actual coverage data from services and accurate estimates of the costs of services and commodities.
Statement of Support from GNP+ on NGO Report
The Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) would like to support the report, commissioned by the PCB NGO Delegation, by re-iterating that the primary purpose and goal of ART is for someone living with HIV to benefit his or her own health. Preventive benefits are important, but remain as secondary considerations. Likewise, public health benefits must not be prioritised over a respect for individual benefits and patient autonomy in decision-making and therefore, decisions about when, or if, to start treatment must be made by the person living with HIV, including those from key populations.
We would like to make 2 points:
First, It is important to underscore that from GNP+’s perspective and according to the principles of Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention for PLHIV, in order for PLHIV to maintain treatment retention and strong adherence, a key ingredient for success—is strong peer involvement- as part of the provision of coordinated and tailored treatment delivery models. Thus, peer support services must be properly funded to ensure that a person living with HIV, including those who are part of key populations who live with HIV, can access non-biased, non-judgemental, accurate and current information about treatment and prevention and can be supported in their decisions about ART initiation or deferral.
Secondly, we would also like to further highlight that there is very limited robust data available from most countries to enumerate and describe adolescents with acquired HIV – a majority of whom are from key populations. This is the very group that falls through programmes and policies in the HIV response. In addition to the legal, social and economic barriers to access to services which have resulted in the low level of service uptake among this group, there are also barriers for engaging them to further understand their needs through research. These barriers include ethical concerns for studies involving adolescents younger than 18 years, weak collaboration and coordination efforts among HIV and child protection systems, and lack of political and social supports, among others.