Access Equity Rights Now
When Nelson Mandela addressed the 12,000 participants at the XIII International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, no one knew what the future held for the AIDS response. Access to lifesaving antiretroviral drugs in 2000 was sharply limited, and donor spending on AIDS activities amounted only to a small fraction of current funding levels.
More than a decade later, the global AIDS response has been transformed. We’ve reached the goal of providing 15 million people with access to life-saving HIV treatment by 2015. Additionally, UNAIDS estimates that from 2002 to 2012, expanded access to HIV treatment averted 4.2 million deaths globally and contributed to a 58% reduction in new HIV infections.
However, many of the obstacles that impeded effective HIV prevention and treatment programs in 2000 still exist today. More than 60% of people living with HIV remain without antiretroviral therapy; including women and girls, men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, young people, and people who use drugs and other marginalized groups remain under-prioritized in the response; investments in HIV prevention research appear to have flattened; and widespread violations of human rights including criminalisation continue to undermine effective responses.
We must now draw attention to those being left behind.