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URGENT Press Release: Civil Society Groups Demand a Coalition of Governments Speak Out and Fight for Game Changing Language in UN AIDS Declaration

Published: June 6, 2016

URGENT PRESS STATEMENT (Please share with any/all of your media contacts.)

Health GAP (Global Access Project)   l   Global Forum on MSM & HIV  l   International Women’s Health Coalition   l   Housing Works  l  Pangea Global AIDS Foundation  l   AVAC

For Immediate Release: June 6 2016

Nadia Rafif, MSMGF, nrafif@msmgf.org,  +1 510 646-5832
Matthew Kavanagh, Health GAP, matthew@healthgap.org, +1 202 486-2488
Nicole Rajani, IWHC, nicole.rajani@gmail.com,  +1 917 912-8986

 

Civil Society Groups Demand a Coalition of Governments Speak Out and Fight for Game Changing Language in UN AIDS Declaration

(New York) At a make-or-break moment in negotiations over a United Nations Political Declaration, set for adoption during the High Level Meeting on HIV starting June 8 in New York, a coalition of advocacy organizations from around the world have called on governments of the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, South Africa, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Netherlands (and other members of the European Union), to intervene by fighting for the inclusion of critical language regarding the needs of marginalized and criminalized people around the world.

According to the activists, the latest version of the document has been unacceptably weakened as a result of obstruction by Russia, Iran, Indonesia and a group of Gulf States–UN members who routinely deny access to quality HIV prevention and treatment services and who violate the human rights of men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, transgender people, sex workers and other criminalized and marginalized groups. The declaration has been stripped of commitments to eliminate discrimination, remove punitive laws, and address other barriers to HIV prevention and treatment for these groups.

“After 35 years of the AIDS epidemic, it is reprehensible that some governments would still rather criminalize communities and obstruct access to evidence based HIV services than work together to end this epidemic,” said George Ayala of the Global Forum on MSM & HIV. “We are demanding leaders that oppose this deadly approach to take a stand today, by requesting the Co-Chairs of the High Level Meeting to open the draft Declaration today for further negotiation. We believe evidence and human rights will carry the day—but only if politicians are willing to work, and to speak out for what is right.”

The current version of the political declaration includes important new ambitious commitments such as delivering treatment to 30 million people by the year 2020, as well as bold new commitments by all member states to accelerate HIV prevention, treatment, realize human rights and address gender-based violence. These areas of progress make the regressive action by some politicians in excluding realization of the rights of gay men and other criminalized populations all the more stark and unacceptable, according to the activists.

“Without commitments on advancing the response among marginalized and criminalized groups, the very goal of the declaration—to guide the world in ending AIDS as a global epidemic by 2030—will not be achieved,” said Asia Russell of Health GAP (Global Access Project). “We have no time for governments who are playing politics while people are dying,”

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