The unfinished business of the AIDS response | Mandeep Dhaliwal

29 Nov 2012

 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care programme in South Sudan. Photo: UNDP South Sudan

HIV responses worldwide have achieved remarkable progress. At the end of 2011, more than 8 million people were accessing life-saving HIV treatment—a 20-fold increase from 2003. New HIV infections have also dropped sharply in numerous countries, including some with high HIV prevalence.

But social exclusion, inequalities, and human rights violations continue to drive the spread of HIV and other diseases, with a disproportionate impact on women and marginalized populations. These include men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, sex workers, and transgender people.  According to a 2012 report by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, discriminatory and punitive legal environments, violence, and other abuses are also helping spread HIV.

Doing a better job of enforcing protective legislation and ensuring that social protection policies cover those affected by HIV can contribute to more inclusive, effective, and efficient HIV responses—leading in turn to reduced inequalities and more resilient people and communities.

For the first time in the history of the AIDS response, domestic investments in HIV have surpassed international assistance: 80 countries increased domestic investment in national HIV responses by more than 50 percent from 2006-2011. All the more reason to strengthen national capacity for implementing rights based approaches for health and development.

Many countries continue to grapple with sustainability of AIDS financing. With 7 million people still in need of treatment, ensuring that essential medicines are affordable and accessible is crucial. Strengthening capacity at the country level to effectively manage health programmes and respond to emerging health and development challenges remains key.

As UNDP Administrator Helen Clark noted in her World AIDS Day statement, “We must sustain the effort that has already accomplished so much for so many. Accelerating action to reduce inequality, promote human rights, and apply lessons learned to health and development more broadly remains vital.

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