At the International AIDS Conference in Montréal we have a clear goal: Putting people living with, affected by, and at risk of HIV at the forefront of the AIDS response.
HIV and AIDS are not purely medical problems. They are development and human rights issues. This has been Hivos’ conviction since the early 1990s when we were one of the first development organizations to respond to the pandemic. To this day, our work aims to:
1. strengthen the voice of rightsholder communities to ensure their participation in decision-making processes
2. promote the choice of young people by providing access to inclusive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)
3. put justice at the center of the HIV and AIDS response
We join the Montréal Youth Force in advocating for these key principles:
People and communities need to be at the center of the HIV and AIDS response. Including and amplifying the voices of those deliberately left out has helped band together more inclusive, diverse, and representative groups of people to challenge dominant narratives and harmful gender norms, punitive laws, and policies that foster stigma and discrimination.
Exclusion in health policies has a destructive impact, especially on young people. They need to be able to make informed decisions about their sexuality and health. For this, we must guarantee they have access to quality services and information. This includes HIV and AIDS treatment and prevention, sexual and reproductive health services, mental health support, and harm reduction for people who use drugs. Young women aged 15 to 24 are twice as likely to be living with HIV as men. The risk of acquiring HIV is 34 times higher for transgender women. Access to inclusive SRHR is therefore high on our agenda.
Social justice, human rights and feminist principles need to be at the core of the HIV and AIDS response. We must address the underlying socioeconomic and political drivers of the epidemic. If we do not end the stigma, criminalization and violence they face, we will not reach those most affected by HIV. As Covid-19 and climate change continue to affect lives and livelihoods worldwide, it is evident that marginalized communities are more likely to suffer the social, health, and economic consequences. We consider it essential to develop and implement strategies that create equity and inclusive economic development as preconditions for social justice.
During AIDS 2022 Hivos calls on governments, donors and other stakeholders to:
Meaningfully engage young people as frontrunners and leaders in HIV prevention and lend them continued political and financial support.
Promote evidence-based decision making and HIV programming, and support youth-led research initiatives that include those most affected in the planning, implementation and evaluation of HIV programs.
Provide accessible open data regarding HIV and key populations, where community involvement is central to data collection and utilization.
Implement comprehensive, inclusive and non-discriminatory HIV prevention and treatment programs as part of routine sexual and reproductive health services for key populations.