Intervention on agenda item 3 – Report on the consultative process to update and extend the UNAIDS 2011- 2015 Strategy through the fast track period 2016-2021
Delivered by Ainsley Reid, Latin America and Caribbean NGO Delegate
Thank you, Chair, for this opportunity to speak at this 36th UNAIDS PCB. I also wish to express my appreciation for the report. Please allow me to share my perspective on the updated UNAIDS strategy.
Since my HIV diagnosis 23 years ago, I have done much work with other PLHIV across the Caribbean. The Zeroes Strategy puts more focus in my work because I can see the gaps that need addressing.
In zero new infection challenges, our communities of PLHIV continue to grow. In Jamaica, we are seeing a drop in new infections, but increases among key populations such as MSM. We have to do more to reach the hard to reach and inspire dignified treatment of the community in all settings. We still face education, work, housing, and security issues.
Achieving Zero HIV-related Stigma and Discrimination is still a huge issue for us in the Caribbean, as we have a weak mechanism to track and monitor incidence and provide redress. The issue of self-stigma is also huge for us, while the rights of LGBT community and sex workers are still hanging in the balance.
On the matter of Zero AIDS related deaths – Since recently, a colleague of mine who educated Jamaica about living with HIV as a woman in anti-stigma media campaigns has given up her fight to live. She is survived by her three daughters, who are trying to cope with her passing. Young women their age have a disproportionate rate of HIV infections in my country and other parts of my region. They face challenges of poverty, inequality, and gender discrimination that limit their choices. Some engage in sex work, which leads to risks of HIV infections, vulnerability to violence, and further discrimination.
With support from stakeholders like PEPFAR, UNAIDS, and Ministry of Health and other in Jamaica, we have more training tools to strengthen our efforts in the Caribbean. Therefore, we feel that the survival of UNAIDS marks our survival and this political alignment is about putting us at the centre of the response and only serves to give our movement more life, courage and hope for the future.
However, we will not reach the aspired zeros without human rights and meaningful leadership of communities living with HIV and key populations. We need a paradigm shift to truly address inequalities in the distribution of resources and access to health. In order to inspire hope, we must also continue in the name of the many people whom we have lost in the battle to address issues of stock-outs and other resource issues in the health system.