ICASO satellite reviews targets and strategies for universal access

Bookmark and Share

Feature story

ICASO satellite reviews targets and strategies for universal access

19 July 2010

From the left: Maria Antoniela Alcalde, Paul de Lay, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director; Olayide Akanni; Kieran Daly, Elena Grigoryeva at the‘ICASO satellite on Universal Access’,From the left: Maria Antoniela Alcalde, Paul de Lay, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director; Olayide Akanni; Kieran Daly, Elena Grigoryeva at the‘ICASO satellite on Universal Access’, Session Room 7 at AIDS 2010, Vienna, Austria on 19 July 2010
Credit: UNAIDS/Anna Rauchenberger

At a satellite session on universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, panelists discussed target setting and review process to date, drawing on community analysis from countries over the last few years. The session aimed to start a debate on how, in many countries, genuine targets for universal access (UA) are not being set, especially for populations at higher risk of HIV infection.

The session, titled 'Fool me Once, Shame on you... Fool me twice, Shame on me: Key population leadership for Universal Access', was organised by the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO).

Panelists included UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme, Dr Paul De Lay, who discussed UNAIDS' analysis of the current situation, particularly at the country level, including target setting for key populations.

“Significant strides have been made since 2006 in achieving universal access, such as a 12-fold increase in access to services for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, but by the end of 2010, only one-third of countries will have reached the UA targets they set,” said Dr De Lay.

“National targets need to be set that get at the heart of the issues facing vulnerable and key populations,” he added.

Talking about UNAIDS' commitment to providing universal access, Dr De Lay said, "It may be tempting to blame someone for not reaching universal access. But we need to keep ourselves focused on what we need to do, rather than what we did not yet do."

In 2006 governments committed, in the form of a Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, to providing universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services to all those in need by 2010. During its recent Programme Coordinating Board meeting, UNAIDS proposed to call on the General Assembly to extend the commitment to universal access to 2015, and to report back on its progress in June 2016. This was not without reason.

Over the past years many countries have brought in new legislation protecting the rights of key populations, particularly those of men who have sex with men and transgender communities. While on the other hand, there still remain several others that have new legislation, or are planning new legislation, that will drive key populations further away from services.

"As you see a polarization of conservative and liberal values in individual countries, we see this playing out on the world stage," Dr De Lay explained.

In such a scenario, there is a need to revitalize monitoring to assist countries and set targets that will reduce sexual transmission, empower men who have sex with men, sex workers and transgender people to protect themselves, protect drug users from becoming infected and remove punitive laws, policies and practices, stigma and discrimination.