40th PCB Meeting
Agenda 5. Follow-up to the thematic segment from the 39th Programme Coordinating Board meeting
Musah Lumumba, African delegate
Estimated to be over 5 million, adolescents and young people represent a growing share of people living with HIV worldwide, who are faced with low treatment rates, increasing AIDS related deaths and poorly disaggregated data.
Children born with HIV are also growing up into adolescents who have to deal with their HIV status as they grow and develop. If the current trends continue, hundred of thousands will become HIV positive in the coming years, widening not only the pool of YPLHIV, but also the number of PLHIV globally, impacting on existing health and other socio-economic interventions.
The medical, psychosocial and economic aspects of a growing and aging population of people living with HIV cannot be over emphasized. As adolescents have to deal with taking medicines in school environments, cognitive deficiencies, and management of HIV infection for the rest of their lives, the older people living with HIV are dealing with livelihood, employment and ageing associated co-morbidities.
What worries us however is that, science seems to be insufficiently understanding the cause for accelerated ageing, yet, as communities of PLHIV, we are the living examples of this dichotomy.
In a rights-based approach, we can clearly see that PLHIV are not just treatment models, as in a homogenous group, which only require Septrin and ARVs, but we are individuals with different health needs beyond our HIV status. If it is messy to allow young girls living with HIV to discuss their sexual health and reproductive rights, shall we as well forget about cervical cancer, children being born with HIV, and forced sterilization? Shall we not pay attention to ano-rectal cancers, as well as, diabetes, mental health, etc.?
Therefore, we need differentiated interventions for all PLHIV especially for those with cross vulnerabilities. Lastly, I pay tribute to my senior colleagues here, who have over time, shaped the way the world looks at us. The first people to bring attention to human rights abuses, the people who paved the way for future generations and set the standards of inclusion, equality and zero discrimination.- It takes courage. I also salute those who have lost the battle in the long run, when science had no tools to manage HIV complications. When everyone seems to be good at just talking, with no actions.
#THEUNAIDSWENEED ensures that interventions are delivered in a continuum for everyone in a life cycle approach – leaving no one behind.