The International Political What? And what has that got to do with Melbourne?

We have an enormous and significant 2 years for our community and HIV sector with Melbourne holding the International World Aids Conference (IAC) in July this year, the pending launch of our National HIV strategy and 2015 being the deadline for the commitments stated in the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS (the Declaration). Given that the eyes are on Australia with the IAC, I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to revisit the big policy movers and shakers of the HIV landscape.

The United Nations International Declaration on HIV/AIDS (the Declaration) is referred to in much of the HIV writing, campaigns and advocacy so you imagine it must be pretty important. Often though, we never take the time to actually explain what it is, what it means, and what it stands for.

Even though 2011 might seem like old business, and for some of us quite a while ago, it is important to revisit and reflect on the Declaration as we are only one year out from the deadline for reaching its stated goals.

So, what’s all the fuss over this declaration?

In 2011, the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS (the declaration) was spawned out of all United Nations member states committing and setting out a framework to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS whilst achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.  The declarations set out 10 definite targets:

  1. Reduce sexual transmission of HIV by 50% by 2015;
  2. Reduce transmission of HIV among people who inject drugs by 50% by 2015;
  3. Eliminate new HIV infections among children by 2015 and substantially reduce AIDS-related maternal deaths;
  4. Reach 15 million PLHIV with lifesaving antiretroviral treatment by 2015;
  5. Reduce tuberculosis deaths in PLHIV by 50 percent by 2015;
  6. Close the global AIDS resource gap by 2015 and reach annual global investment of US$22-24 billion in low-and middle-income countries;
  7. Eliminate gender inequalities and gender-based abuse and violence and increase the capacity of women and girls to protect themselves from HIV;
  8. Eliminate stigma and discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV through promotion of laws and policies that ensure the full realisation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  9. Eliminate HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence; and
  10. Eliminate parallel systems for HIV related services to strengthen integration of the AIDS response in global health and development efforts as well as strengthening social protection systems.

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

With one year out from the end point of the declaration, we have a lot of work to do to realise these goals.

In shaping Australia’s response to the UN declaration, the Melbourne Declaration was launched and endorsed by all leading Australian HIV community, professional and research organisations.

The Melbourne Declaration bolsters the implementation of Australian programs and responses to meet our targets under the UN Declaration. It is a roadmap to achieving the goals set out in the UN Declaration and a call to action to revitalise our efforts.

In 2013, a review of the key action areas was undertaken and the Australian effort was given a report card. To date, we have scored 21/40, a disappointing 53%. We are barely reaching our commitments. In the next 12 months, the advocacy blog will be reporting Australia’s progress in achieving these commitments.

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