Statistics shared by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), show that approximately 37.7 million people were living with HIV globally in 2020. Studies indicate that people living with HIV experience more severe outcomes and have higher comorbidities from Covid-19. As recently as mid-2021, according to the UNAIDS Global HIV and AIDS Statistics fact sheet, most people living with HIV still did not have access to Covid-19 vaccines. Studies from England and South Africa have found that the risk of dying from Covid-19 among people with HIV was double that of the general population.
Ten years ago, UNAIDS created a strategy to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. As Covid-19 emerged as another threat impacting health outcomes for people with HIV, UNAIDS needed to respond and revise the original strategy. UNAIDs enlisted Reos Partners to help address the challenge.
A Strategy Based on Human Rights and Equality
UNAIDS and eleven co-sponsors convened with member states across the globe to develop and refine the strategy to end HIV and AIDS by 2030. The strategy identified that HIV prevention for priority populations is central and key. This calls on countries to utilize the full potential of HIV prevention tools, especially for adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa, sex workers, people who inject drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people and people in prison settings. During the process, it became clear that in order to meet the targets and commitments in the strategy, progress must be made across the entire spectrum of rights —civil, cultural, economic, political, social, sexual and reproductive.
Ensuring the rights of all people is critical to creating access to life-saving services. The journey to end AIDS requires a population that is informed and empowered, mobilized and engaged.
“Effective engagement required strong commitment from participants. We ensured that the inputs of stakeholders were reflected in the work throughout the process”. says Mahmood Sonday, Director at Reos Partners Africa.
Collaborating for Change
Multi-stakeholder processes can often be challenging, especially where opposing views are likely and the commitment to listen without bias is critical. Reos Partners was able to navigate these complex settings and what resulted is a strategy based on human rights, gender equality and dignity, free from stigma and discrimination for all people living with and affected by HIV. This result emerged after extensive analysis of HIV data and an inclusive process of consultation with countries, communities, and partners.