No one should be left behind

September 29, 2013

At the UN General Assembly Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), world leaders adopted an outcome document emphasizing the need for inclusivity and accessibility for all, with a particular focus on those who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged when it comes to accelerating efforts to achieve the MDGs by 2015.

The President of the General Assembly, Ambassador John Ashe of Antigua, boldly stated at the opening of the event that no one should be left behind in closing the gaps to meet the MDGs and that new commitments such as equity and social justice are critical.

STOP AIDS NOW! welcomes the outcome document which also outlines a joint vision for an inclusive and people-centred post-2015 development agenda: universal goals building on the foundations of the MDGs, applicable to all countries, and promoting peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights for all.

The protection and promotion of human rights is critical for an effective AIDS response.  While great progress has been made during the last decade to increase access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for those living with and affected by HIV, there are still big gaps to fill, in particular for marginalized populations including men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs and transgender persons.  In this context, we applaud the commitment made at the Special Event by US Secretary of State John Kerry to make combating discrimination a key priory for development. Whilst laws remain in place that criminalize communities and promote stigma and discrimination, and human rights violations continue to occur, we will not achieve an AIDS-free generation.

Barbara Martinez, a young woman living with HIV and representing the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Young People living with HIV, was the only civil society representative to address the General Assembly and asked the heads of state and ministers present: “do you want to be the leaders who will fail, or do you want to be the leaders who will bring us the end of HIV/AIDS?”

The US Secretary of State made a strong appeal to the global community to bring an AIDS-free generation within reach and to fully support the upcoming replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which will be hosted in December by President Obama.

However there remains a long way to go to secure the decriminalization and human rights of those most affected by HIV and to address the enormous inequality of access still found in every country - rich or poor.  If used effectively, this outcome document is a step in the right direction on the path to a world without AIDS.