Yesterday, on the first day of the World AIDS Conference, to be held in Amsterdam from July 23 to 27, two sessions coordinated by the organization Salud por Derecho were organized to present the NOBODY campaign, thanks to the collaboration of GNP + and the GFAN, who offered us spaces in their stands during morning and afternoon hours.
The sessions, open to the public of the Conference, were coordinated by Vanessa López, Director of Salud por Derecho, who provided a general presentation of the campaign and presented the speakers. After the introduction and the viewing of campaign videos, we listened to the testimonies of two representatives of the Panamanian and Paraguayan civil society, both countries are part of NOBODY.
Juan Domingo Centurión, Executive Director of Sex Research and Education Center "Ñepyru", spoke about the situation of the pandemic and key populations in Paraguay and the relevance and usefulness of the campaign in his country. Jaime Luna, Executive Director of Grupo Genesis Panama, exposed the risks of the response to AIDS in Panama without international funding and denounced the lack of commitment of his government.
Also participating in the afternoon session, a representative of Colombian civil society, Miguel Angel Barriga, director of the Red Somos corporation, explained the situation of the response to AIDS in Colombia, the risks that would arise if international aid disappeared and the different forms to face sustainability from civil society.
Both sessions were a success in terms of attendance and finished after a Q&A round.
The NOBODY campaign, supported by more than 50 organizations, began its journey through Latin America and the Caribbean after its launch in Panama during the Candlelight Memorial or World Vigil, in memory of the people who died from AIDS, and will be coming soon to countries in the region such as Belize or Paraguay, which, like Panama, already have their own reports for the campaign.
The NOBODY Campaign denounces the decrease of international funding for HIV / AIDS and the lack of commitment of many governments to deal with the pandemic within its borders, leaving behind the populations more vulnerable to the virus (men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender population, injecting drug users, etc.) and civil society organizations working with these population.
For this reason, the NOBODY campaign asks the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean for an increase in health budgets and for the fight against AIDS, especially those aimed at key populations; a commitment to sustain the services funded by international aid; greater support for social organizations so that they can continue with their work of prevention and attention for the most vulnerable populations; and a legislation that protects human rights of its citizens, eliminating stigma and criminalization, and guaranteeing access to health and medicines for all.
With the idea of continuing to add support during the coming months, the NOBODY campaign aims to ensure that everyone fulfills their role in the fight against AIDS: if governments disappear, if donors disappear, if civil society disappears, we will not be able to end AIDS. It is a responsibility shared by all: no one can disappear.
NOBODY, THE CAMPAIGN THAT ASKS GOVERNMENTS ALL OVER THE WORLD TO ENSURE NOBODY DISAPPEARS FROM THE FIGHT AGAINST AIDS
Promoted by Salud por Derecho and supported by organisations from all over the world-especially in Latin America and the Caribbean-the new campaign condemns the lack of financing for the fight against the epidemic and alerts to the withdrawal of international assistance in middle-income countries, where over half of the people with HIV live. The most vulnerable populations and civil society organisations are the most affected.
Despite firm commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to end the HIV epidemic by 2030 and to ensure NOBODY is left behind, governments all over the world are forgetting millions of people with discriminatory legislation, their own domestic health policies and cooperation programmes.
On the week of World AIDS Day, the NOBODY campaign condemns, in a new report, how financing for the fight against AIDS is at its lowest level since 2010. One of the consequences is the reduction or withdrawal of international assistance in countries classified as middle-income, where between 60 and 70% of people with HIV live.
At a global level, the populations most affected by HIV are men who have sex with other men, the transgender population, sex workers, intravenous drug users, the prison population and the indigenous population, whose risk of contracting HIV is 10 to 50 times higher than that of other adults. In 2015, apart from Sub-Saharan Africa, these key populations and their sexual partners represented over 80% of new HIV infections.
These groups suffer serious violation of their human rights in many countries. Stigma, discrimination and lack of, or failure to apply, legislation that protects their rights, sees added vulnerability that makes it difficult for them to access prevention and treatment programmes. In Latin America, even though these populations have the greater burden of the disease, they account for only 2% of investment in prevention.
The stigma and social and political discrimination faced by these people means that most prevention and support programmes depend on international support. Moreover, the withdrawal of these resources places the activities of many social organisations that cover essential prevention services at risk and on which the legislative work to defend the human rights of the these populations falls. They will have to limit or put an end to programmes if the local government does not ensure their continuation.
Donor countries and international cooperation and financing bodies focus their priorities on lower-income counties under the premise that middle-income countries can assume the fight against AIDS with their own resources. But this is not always the case and this can threaten to roll back the progress made over recent decades. Financial decisions based on income do not consider other determining factors such as technical capacity, the political will of governments when it comes to applying adequate resources and policies to combat AIDS or the political and legislative situation of the most vulnerable populations.
In particular, this problem affects regions with mostly middle-income countries such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where new infections increased by 60% between 2010 and 2015, coinciding with the withdrawal of international funding. And now it also threatens Latin America and the Caribbean where some countries are beginning to see the withdrawal of assistance. In Belize, for example, only 36% of resources to respond to HIV comes from domestic funding and the programme to fight United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) initiated the process of leaving the region in 2014, a process which, with the exception of Jamaica will be completed in 2019.
Spain is another one of the countries that has drastically reduced its AIDS funding. Despite having been one of the biggest donors of The Global Fund over the past decade, and despite parliamentary agreement on the contribution of 100 million euros, the Government has only signed a debt-conversion agreement for 15 million with three African countries and The Global Fund. Since 2011, Spain has not disbursed any resources to this body.
The NOBODY campaign asks donor countries and international bodies, such as The Global Fund, to establish coherent assistance based on new realities and social justice, to support civil society as a fundamental pillar of the response and that the processes of withdrawing from certain countries are accompanied by certain responsible transitions, ensuring that governments assume their responsibility and comply with the human rights of all their population, especially the most vulnerable populations that live with HIV.
On the other hand, we also call on the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean to increase their budgets for health and the fight against AIDS; to provide greater support to social organisations so that they can continue to carry out their work on prevention and provide services to the most vulnerable population, and to introduce legislation that protects the human rights of citizens, eliminating stigma and criminalisation and guaranteeing the rights of all people to access health and medicine.
The NOBODY campaign is aimed at ensuring everyone plays their role in the fight against AIDS. If governments disappear, if donors disappear, if civil society disappears, we cannot end AIDS. It is everyone's shared responsibility; NOBODY can disappear.
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