40th PCB Meeting
Agenda 9: Thematic Segment on Prevention
Kene Esom, Africa Delegate
Let me start by appreciating the Panelists for their very insightful interventions.
According to the Prevention Gap Report 2016, new infections in adults 15+ has stayed static since 2010 at an average 1.9m annually. There is no gainsaying the fact that we have dropped the ball. These figures are an indictment on us all and this is totally unacceptable.
What happened to the robust prevention agenda that buoyed us in the early days of the epidemic when all that drove the robust response was the passion of the communities impacted greatly by the loss of friends and family to AIDS? We achieved so much on the consciousness of our shared humanity, with no financial agenda to speak of. Prevention worked, and still works, and we need to fund it.
The NGO Delegation welcomes the Background Note – HIV Prevention 2020 and particularly the beginnings of the resurgence of a prevention agenda premised on the right to prevention – combination prevention – as a composite of the right to health. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provides for the right to the highest attainable standard of health in Article 12. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights explaining the obligation of Member States in this regard in General Comment 12 of 2000 said that the right to prevention [Art. 14(2)(2)] ‘…requires the establishment of prevention and education programmes for behavior-related health concerns such as sexually transmitted diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS, and those adversely affecting sexual and reproductive health, and the promotion of social determinants of good health, such as environmental safety, education, economic development and gender equity’
We can no longer afford to treat prevention as the proverbial Cinderella, the step-sister left behind because there is no wealthy benefactor/stepmother to dress her for the royal ball. We must all become the fairy god-parents that fight the cause of the Cinderellas of our communities – young women and adolescent girls, MSM, sex workers, transgender persons, people who used drugs, prisoners and detainees – who are being left behind by a growing apathy towards combination prevention in our global response. I have used a popular children’s story figuratively to remind us that our shared humanity and the universal right to the highest attainable standard of health should be the primary consideration driving the HIV agenda, not economic gains. 1.9 million new infections per year is unacceptable and this figure requires far less resources to impact, if we re-prioritise the right to prevention in the global response.
My question to the panelist is – In your opinion, what would it take to reinvigorate an HIV Prevention agenda that is premised strongly on the Right to Prevention and resourced?