Overview of the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS

On 8-10 June 2016 New York hosted the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS (HLM). We present you a brief overview of the meeting including highlights from the Political Declaration and some suggestions on how these commitments and the HLM momentum should be taken forward for implementation at the regional and country levels in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The key document that was agreed on at the HLM was the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: On the Fast-Track to Accelerate the Fight against HIV and to End the AIDS Epidemic by 2030, which was unanimously adopted by all UN Member States at the opening of the HLM. The Political Declaration is an ambitious, forward-looking document that is fully in line with the UNAIDS Strategy 2016-2021, and affirms the need to Fast-Track the response by 2020 to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The Declaration addresses a broad range of issues beyond health, including to promote and protect human rights and eliminate gender inequalities. Please see here the full text of the Declaration.

The Declaration recognizes that one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate to diverse HIV epidemics, and promotes a population/location approach, including the continuity of care in humanitarian and conflict settings. The document explicitly recognizes the special needs of women, adolescent girls and boys, and key populations who are at higher risk of HIV, the need for increased and particularly front-loaded financial investments and innovations, as well as the need for a continuous involvement of the people living with and affected by HIV in implementing the Declaration.

The Declaration includes a broad range of commitments and targets to reach by 2020 in order to crystalize action and accountability to end AIDS, including:

  1. High-level Fast-Track Goals for 2020:to reduce the number of new infections / AIDS-related deaths to less than 500 000 annually, and eliminate HIV-related discrimination;
  2. 90-90-90 by 2020, including the adult treatment target for 2020 to reach30 millionand global pediatric treatment (super fast-track) target for 2018 to reach 6 million;
  3. Eliminate new HIV infections among childrenand ensure their mothers’ health and well-being sustained through immediate and life-long treatment, with an emphasis on breast-feeding women;
  4. Empower young peopleto be leaders in the AIDS response, and scale up comprehensive education on sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention, human rights and power in relationships to enable them build self-esteem, informed decision-making, and risk reduction skills to protect themselves from HIV;
  5. Achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by investing in gender-responsive approaches and supporting women’s leadership, and create enabling legal, social and policy frameworks to eliminate stigma, discrimination and violence against women and girls;
  6. Ensure that 90% of people at risk of HIV infection are reached by prevention servicesand saturate areas with high HIV incidence with a combination of tailored prevention interventions, particularly for all women and adolescent girls, migrants, and key populations;
  7. Eliminate and prohibit all forms of violence, discrimination and coercive practices in health-care settings, to ensure universal access to comprehensive HIV services for people living with, at risk of and affected by HIV;
  8. Eliminate stigma, discrimination and violence related to HIV, promote access to non-discriminatory education, health-care, employment and social services and provide legal protections and ensure 75% of people living with HIV benefit from HIV-sensitive social protection by 2020;
  9. Ensure universal access to quality, affordable and comprehensivesexual and reproductive health-care and HIV services, information, and commodities, including women-initiated prevention commodities and importance of promoting universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights;
  10. Fully fund the AIDS response from all sources, and reaching overall financial investments in developing countries, of at least USD 26 billion/year(globally) by 2020. At a time when support for civil society is at risk, the Political Declaration has committed to ensure expanding community-led service delivery to cover at least 30% of all service delivery by 2030 and to invest at least 6% of global AIDS resources in civil society for advocacy and social enablers.

For the first time in the history of the UN General Assembly, the Political Declaration also commits to concrete targets to be achieved by 2020 for each region. Some of the key numerical targets for the Eastern Europe and Central Asia include:

  1. Reducing the number of new infectionsamong young people and adults (aged 15 and older) by 75% – to 44 000 per year;
  2. Reducing the number of new infectionsin children and young adolescents (under 15) by 95% – to fewer than 100 per year;
  3. Increasing to at least 81% of the number of young people and adults living with HIV (aged 15 and older) on treatment in 2020 to 1.4 million, ensuring equal access to treatmentfor women and men.

The Political Declaration also gives special attention on the efforts needed to identify and ensure that services reach the key populations most affected in different regions among whom the epidemic is expanding, specifically: sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, transgender people, and prisoners, as well as migrants.

In order to reach these and other targets in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, all governments, partners and organizations can no longer maintain ‘business as usual’ or simply keep doing what has worked so far. In order to get Eastern Europe and Central Asia on the Fast Track, we need to explore and implement new ways of transforming the Political Declaration into action.
The video and links to the remarks at the HLM Opening Ceremony are available here online, including speeches by:

– H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly;
– H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations;
– Mr. Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS (text of the speech);
– Ms. Loyce Maturu, representative of people living with HIV from Zimbabwe;
– Mr. Ndaba Mandela, Chairman and co-founder of the Africa Rising Foundation.
The country statements delivered by the heads of national delegations at the HLM are available online (if they were shared officially with the UNGA; followthis link to search either by date of the statement (8, 9 or 10 June) or by country name).

Thematic Panels during the HLM
The HLM featured five official thematic panel sessions, in which over 600 participants, including 10 Heads of State and Government and more than 60 ministers, people living with HIV, representatives of civil society, representatives of international organizations and the private sector, scientists and researchers took part. The links to each of the sessions are below:

  1. AIDS within the Sustainable Development Goals: leveraging the end of AIDS for social transformation and sustainable development (video,session summary);
  2. Financing and sustaining the end of AIDS: the window of opportunity (session summary);
  3. Getting ahead of the looming treatment crisis: an action agenda for getting to 90–90–90 (videosession summary);
  4. Leaving no one behind: ending stigma and discrimination through social justice and inclusive societies (videosession summary);
  5. Children, adolescent girls and young women: preventing new HIV infections (videosession summary).

The HLM also included over 30 side-events. Please find the links to the various HLM videosphotos and additional information.