Agenda 5. Update on actions to reduce stigma and discrimination in all its forms
Delivered by Jeffry P. Acaba, NGO Asia Pacific
Thank you, Chair. The NGO Delegation welcomes the report on the updates on actions to reduce stigma and discrimination in all its forms. Actions have taken place since this Decision Point was approved at the 35th PCB, my first PCB meeting and these have resulted in important changes.
Communities and civil society play a central role in reducing stigma and discrimination. The work done by the Global Network of People Living with HIV and the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS on the Stigma Index have resulted to measurable indicators on stigma and discrimination,as seen in the Global AIDS Monitoring report; and we encourage Member States to support PLHIV networks in implementating the Stigma Index, as part of improving their national HIV programs, especially in regions where it has not been implemented.
Also, the work done by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people, together with UNDP and UNESCO, such as in Asia Pacific, has resulted in a number of school policies and programs that not only protect LGBTI from discrimination, but provide a space for them to come together and demand for HIV services in their schools. People who use drugs and civil society who work on drug policy in my region, Asia Pacific, have formed a regional response team, in partnership with UNAIDS RST, to address the ongoing war on drugs in the Philippines and to resist any similar undertaking in the region. The Joint Programme needs to accelerate support for these efforts, as well as for Member States towards non-discriminatory access to employment, justice, education, and health services of people living with HIV and key populations.
Despite the progress, these are NOT enough. We have yet to see a global movement to fight stigma and discrimination. We have the 90-90-90 treatment targets that put treatment efforts on course; and the recently-launched Global Prevention Coalition will will galvanize focus on prevention. Why isn’t there any similar collective push to eliminate stigma and discrimination? We can’t keep beating around the bush. Enough is enough. We heard from yesterday’s interventions that many countries need to step up in addressing stigma and discrimination, if we are to end the AIDS epidemic. Hence, we request UNAIDS to facilitate the creation of a global compact to eliminate stigma and discrimination. This multisectoral global compact, which includes communities and civil society, can leverage funding, develop targets, ensure data availability, and push for a stronger political commitment towards ending stigma and discrimination, especially of people living with HIV, key populations, and those most affected by HIV.
This is my final intervention as an Asia Pacific delegate, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their commitment. We come from diverse backgrounds that make our work at the PCB challenging, but also exciting. As someone living with HIV, seeing this room full of Member States, UN agencies, partners, and most especially communities and civil society, gives me a sense of joy and of hope. The PCB is a governance model that should be replicated in other UN boards, and I thank you all for your commitment to end this pandemic and to work towards making this world a better place to live in for people like me.
Our work does not and will not end here. For every pat on the back, we need to always ask ourselves: is this enough? Until we get to the end of the AIDS epidemic, it will never be enough. Let’s continue to act and keep the passion alive. We will get there. We will get there.