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The Global Network of Young People Living with HIV (Y+ Global) and its partners African Girl Child Development and Support Initiative, Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), and Frontline AIDS, are concerned about multiple reports of young people being refused Canadian visas to attend and participate at the AIDS 2022 conference.

The biennial conference this year, takes place in Montreal, Canada, from 29th July – 2nd August, and will be the first in-person global gathering on AIDS since the onset of COVID-19, which has seriously impacted the HIV response. Yet, young people living with, at risk of, and most affected by HIV who have registered to attend the conference in-person, including those who have received the International AIDS Society (IAS) scholarships, have had their visa applications rejected.

One of the reasons provided includes a lack of evidence that the applicants will return to their home country after the conference. All reports that Y+ Global has received so far are from young people based in African and Latin American countries who need to complete complex, lengthy and expensive visa application processes via poorly functioning online portals, presenting special challenges for young people affected by the digital divide. A lack of visa application centers in Burundi and Malawi also means that applicants from these countries must travel to Rwanda and South Africa to submit their biometrics.

“We strongly oppose the complex hurdles that young people living with, at risk of, and most affected by HIV have to jump through to attend a conference that directly impacts our health and lives and the undue scrutiny shown in the review process. I call on the Canadian government to simplify the application process and prioritize visas for young people to ensure our meaningful engagement and leadership at AIDS 2022.” – Tinashe Rufurwadzo, Y+ Global Director of Programmes, Management, and Governance.

COVID-19 has impacted the HIV response and AIDS 2022 is a crucial moment to reshape and redouble efforts to end AIDS, particularly for young people from the African continent who are disproportionately impacted by HIV. It is imperative that they participate in the decisions affecting their health and futures.

Y+ Global and partners galvanized resources to support young people to attend the conference in person, but visa barriers are excluding them from the learning and networking opportunities that the conference offers. Whilst virtual attendance is available, this creates a two-tier system that favors representation from wealthier countries in the global north and relies on the availability and reliability of an internet connection and data access.

The IAS must actively support young activists, particularly those from middle- and low-income countries to access travel visas to enable them to attend the conference in Montreal, Canada.

“We urge that decisions on conference venues acknowledge and consider the levels of scrutiny and barriers that communities of people living with and affected by HIV continuously face in our quest to represent in our own voices and lived experiences, and ask IAS to commit to hosting a greater number of future conferences in the countries most affected by HIV.”- Florence Riako Anam, Programme Manager, Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+)

Application Deadline: July 15th, 2022

Unitaid is a global health initiative that works with partners to bring about innovations to prevent, diagnose and treat major diseases in low- and middle-income countries, with an emphasis on tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS and its deadly co-infections. Founded in 2006, the organization funds the final stages of research and development of new drugs, diagnostics and disease-prevention tools, helps produce data supporting guidelines for their use, and works to allow more affordable generic medicines to enter the marketplace in low- and middle-income countries.

The Communities Delegation to the Unitaid Board represents people living with and affected by HIV, TB and Malaria and those co-infected with HIV and HCV, at Unitaid Board and Committee level. The Communities Delegation aims to be transparent, accountable and to prepare communities at grassroots and country level to engage in Unitaid work, working to raise awareness to increase the debate about the Unitaid work areas that directly affect those living with the diseases at country level, especially in the global south.

Since 2015 the Communities Delegation reconstituted itself to serve its seat on the Unitaid Board and is hosted by GNP+ based in Cape Town, South Africa. For more information about the Delegation’s mission, vision, goals and charter, please find our Delegation Handbook here.

The Communities Delegation is currently inviting applications for membership from people living with HIV, affected by tuberculosis, malaria and those co-infected with HIV and HCV for the period 2022-2025. The Delegation would like to increase its representativity by recruiting additional members from under-represented countries and disease areas.

The Terms of Reference for the Delegation members can be found in the Delegation Handbook with a description of the selection process. Please note that Delegation membership involves regular policy analysis and input into Board processes and grant proposal reviews and that the working language is English.

Community members living with the diseases from Unitaid-implementing countries in West and Central Africa, Latin America, and Asia, as well as community experts in viral hepatitis, IP, Malaria and Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH) are strongly encouraged to apply. We would particularly welcome applications from countries with important Unitaid investments such as Uganda, India, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, DRC, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda, Lesotho and Myanmar. You will find an overview of all current Unitaid projects and implementing countries here. Interested community members with the above expertise and criteria are invited to submit the Application Form via email to wvandevelde@gnpplus.net. The deadline for submissions is July 15th 2022 COB.

Application Form: CD application form 2022

Jeff Acaba, GNP+ Board member

On the occasion of commemorating the 2022 International AIDS Candlelight Memorial with theme, “Beyond Remembering, to taking Action to End AIDS”, we remember our families, friends, and colleagues who have died because of AIDS. More than 40 years since HIV has been named, we must remember, through the deaths that we have collectively experienced, that while this virus is manageable thanks to science, it still is killing more than hundreds of thousands of people each year in Asia and the Pacific (based on the 2021 Global AIDS Report). We have the tools that keep people informed of their HIV status and keeping us alive as people living with HIV, but the access gap to information, testing, and treatment vary largely. Testing coverage across different key populations in the Asia and the Pacific region remain below 60% across the board. Treatment gap ranges from 5% in Cambodia to more than 60% in Afghanistan.

One of the reasons for these gaps is the continued persecution and ostracization of key populations through laws that are punitive or that hamper key population’s and specific group’s access to HIV services: laws that continue to criminalise sex work and drug use, and laws that require parental consent even at an age wherein young people can already discern their needs. As long as these laws remain, we will not reach the targets that we have set by 2025.

This International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, let us match every remembrance with a commitment to take action – not only to address these legal and political gaps, but also to protect our gains and call on a continued investment to the responses led by key population-led organisations and civil society, that have effectively stemmed the HIV epidemic in respective communities and spaces. Our role, especially in advocacy, has never been more important and necessary, especially in a climate where our contributions are either questioned or reduced. Beyond remembering, let’s fight and take action to end AIDS!

Visit the Candlelight Memorial website for this year’s activities and events:

www.candlelightmemorial.net

Written submission by the Global Network of people living with HIV (GNP+)

An international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response should set standards that reduce inequality in and within countries.

The Global Network of people living with HIV (GNP+) 2020 survey, highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the community of people living with HIV. Based on the findings of this data, we strongly recommend the INB to consider the following evidence-based statements:

The continuity of HIV prevention and treatment services must remain a priority during the response to a new pandemic.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, some of the pandemic response strategies created barriers to accessing HIV treatment, holding back HIV treatment initiation in most countries (The Global Fund, 2021). The response to a new pandemic must not come at the cost of the lives of those affected by an existing pandemic like AIDS.

Address stigma and discrimination against vulnerable populations, & end inequalities.

The Pandemic Treaty must place particular emphasis on the protection and respect of the human rights and dignity of marginalised people. Recent experience has proven the increase of gender-based violence, stigma and discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV over the course of the COVID-19 response mechanism. The international instrument must be grounded in human rights principles and guarantee the dignity of vulnerable populations.

The meaningful engagement of the community in the pandemic preparedness and response needs to be a principle, not a simple step in the process.

Building on the history of the HIV epidemic, the international instrument must set principles for meaningful engagement of communities in decision-making processes. We have lived it before, we can’t commit the same mistake, twice. Community needs to be at the centre as proved by UNAIDS (2020)

Here in Zimbabwe, I’ve seen firsthand how very difficult Tuberculosis (TB) is for children, adolescents and families, especially those living with HIV. Despite being preventable and treatable, TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infections. Each day, close to 28,000 people worldwide fall ill with this disease and over 4,000 people – including 650 children – lose their lives to it. Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 66 million lives since the year 2000, but sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress. For the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020.

Why have children in particular been so neglected in the TB response? The lack of dedicated funding for pediatric TB interventions has been highlighted repeatedly as a key barrier.

Thankfully, we’re starting to see some hopeful signs. In 2018, UN Member States committed to a global target of providing TB preventive treatment to at least 30 million people, including 4 million children aged under 5 years, who are household contacts of people diagnosed with TB. The Rome Action Plan 2020 included a dedicated focus on accelerating research and development of priority TB drugs and formulations for children living with HIV. At the UN high-level meeting on HIV and AIDS in June 2021, countries committed to ensuring that 90% of people living with HIV receive TB preventive treatment by 2025.

While this progress is welcome, many challenges remain. To address TB among children and save lives, GNP+ calls urgently for the following:

  • Create awareness within communities on pediatric TB in order to generate demand for quality childhood TB services and keep national authorities accountable for delivering them
  • Make childhood TB a priority in global, regional and national agendas and investments
  • Act on commitments made by national leaders and heads of state during high-level intergovernmental forums
  • Engage policy-makers to develop sustainable approaches to prevent and tackle child and adolescent TB
  • Ensure country availability and distribution of child-friendly formulations of TB medicines
  • Speed up integration of TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment with other health services, including those for HIV
  • Improve monitoring and evaluation of the TB response and the specific outcomes for children and adolescents
  • Better investment in social and economic support systems for households living with HIV, to ensure healthy living conditions contribute towards a more productive society

GNP+ joins WHO in calling for increased investment and research innovation to end TB in children and adolescents and adoption of the most up-to-date guidelines for pediatric TB diagnosis. This is especially critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put progress on TB at risk.

Together, we can raise our voices to demand equitable access to pediatric TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. Whether in Zimbabwe or around the world, children and adolescents deserve no less.

Written by Annah Sango

At GNP+, we are working on developing our new Strategic Plan. This plan will steer us through the next crucial few years as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and its challenges, and look towards the major milestones of the Sustainable Development Goals and scaling up our efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

With so much at stake, we want to ensure that we get this right. Our aim is to make sure that GNP+ is primed to better understand, respond and secure impact on the issues that matter most to people living with HIV. We also want to use the coming years to strengthen our movement and build strong, sustainable partnerships to meet future challenges and ensure that no one is left behind in the HIV response. 

There is still so much to be done and we need your help in determining how we approach the coming strategic period. We are therefore seeking insights and feedback from valued partners across the HIV sector and beyond through a survey which you can find below. 

We would be hugely grateful if you would be able to participate and share your thoughts with us. It will take you approximately 15 mins to complete. 

Thank you for taking part. Your views are important to us and will help shape the future of GNP+.

Survey ends 1 April 2022.

Take our survey – here they are in different languages:

On this International Women’s Day, we join peers, colleagues and partners to celebrate the incredible achievements of women all over the world in ensuring access to HIV prevention and treatment, including Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) services.

The road towards a sustainable tomorrow is held by this foundation based on women’s fearless, resilient mobilising and action worldwide. As young feminist activists, we acknowledge the incredible role that the women in our diversity continue to play to promote gender justice and ensure women and girls’ rights remain on the agenda at global and national levels. Although some progress has been recorded in recent decades, an ultra-conservative robust backlash threatens bodily and sexual autonomy, decision-making power, and the dignity and safety of women, girls, and other sexual minorities. COVID-19 has exacerbated gender inequalities, imposing financial hardship, especially on women. Additionally, blind spots to the specific challenges endured by women who faced multiple forms of discrimination – such as women who inject drugs and engage in sex work, and LBQ young women – continue to reproduce gender inequalities within the HIV response, undermining efforts to end HIV / AIDS. 

Women and girls, particularly women from key-populations (female sex workers, women who use drugs and transgender women, LBQ women) continue to be marginalised and most impacted by HIV[1]. Conservative social norms and patriarchal perceptions on gender roles often disempower women and girls, preventing them from making autonomous and well-informed decisions about their sexual lives and health, putting them at higher risk of acquiring HIV. 40 years into the HIV epidemic, AIDS is still the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age[2]. Ensuring access to SRHR services is critical to promote gender equality and empower women and girls to lead healthy lives, challenge harmful power relations and open doors to opportunities.

Laws and policies also drive how people living with and affected by HIV are treated, how health systems are structured, and how government officials and health care agents engage with communities. Across the world, 64 countries still criminalise people based on their sexual orientation and 14 countries criminalise people based on gender identities; 92 countries have laws that criminalise HIV transmission, exposure or non-disclosure, and many countries with age of consent laws deny HIV prevention services to young women.

How women across different communities are affected by HIV.
How women across different communities are affected by HIV.

Most countries criminalise sex work and drug possession and/or use. These punitive laws fuel stigma and discrimination and create an unfavourable environment that makes women living with HIV, sex workers, women who use drugs, transgender, lesbian, bisexual and queer women face challenging barriers to access essential and life-saving health services for fear of judgment, eviction, getting a criminal record, incarceration, deportation, loss of rights to care for their children, and loss of inheritance rights.

Enabling legal environments and positive health outcomes.
Enabling legal environments and positive health outcomes.

Data from HIV Policy Lab show the significance of supportive legal and structural environments in realising HIV goals and targets, especially among women and girls. Evidence shows more progress in national HIV programmes in countries with clear laws promoting non-discrimination, human rights and robust gender-based violence responses. In 2021, during the UN HLM on HIV/AIDS, UN member States committed to creating such a supportive legal and structural environment to address the inequalities faced by people living with HIV, key populations and women and girls in the HIV response. By 2025, countries that adopted the HLM Political Declaration must reduce by 10% or less the proportion of:

➔ Women, girls, people living with, at risk of and affected by HIV who experience gender-based inequalities and sexual and gender-based violence

➔ Countries with restrictive legal and policy frameworks that lead to the denial or limitation of access to service

➔  People experiencing all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination 

Now is the time to bring these commitments that impact women and girls into action! We urge governments, donors and implementing partners to:

  1. Urge attention and efforts that result in the decriminalisation of individuals based on HIV transmission, engagement in sex work, drug use or possession, or same-sex relationships so that women and girls can enjoy their inherent rights to health, including HIV and SRHR.
  2. Resource women-led interventions, including advocacy actions that hold governments and stakeholders accountable to global commitments on gender equality.   

It is time for all of us to end biases that fuel marginalisation and inequality, hampering women’s access to HIV and SRHR services. It is the right thing to do to realise the global commitments to end AIDS by 2030.

[1] See the 2021 Global Aids Update as a PDF

[2] Read the press release We’ve got the Power

Written by: Aline Fantinatti, Florence Anam, Tambudzai Magwenzi and Bruna Martinez.

Today, March 1st is international Zero discrimination day.  GNP+ reiterates our call on countries to create a legal and structural environment that supports people living with, affected by and at risk of HIV to access HIV prevention and treatment interventions. It is the right thing to do. Especially now that data shows Data shows that supportive legal and structural environments reduce marginalization and promotes achievement of national HIV goals and targets. 

In order to realize the commitments of the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS passed by member states in 2021, policymakers must invest efforts to all efforts to address laws, policies, and practices that restrict Key populations and young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and harm reduction services; laws that criminalise the failure to disclose HIV status; policies and practices that allow for the forcible or coercive sterilisation of women living with HIV and key populations and laws and policies that permit mandatory HIV testing of specific populations such as pregnant women and sex workers 

We urge country leadership and policymakers to embrace scientific evidence for both biomedical and social enablers. It is the science that discovered the anti-retroviral treatment 35 years ago, it is the science that found suppressed viral load reduces to zero, new HIV infections and led communities to the Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) awareness and it is the science that shows laws that criminalise HIV are BAD LAWS. 

In case you missed it, please read the op-ed by GNP+ programme managers How possible is “Ending inequalities and ending AIDS by 2030” in harmful legal environments? The irony of commitments.

Ukraine Counts.

25 February 2022 – On the eve of our collective call to “Fight for What Counts,” the invasion of Ukraine has indeed catalysed the Global Fund partnership’s call to action.

At this week’s Preparatory Meeting for the Global Fund’s ambitious replenishment ask of 18 Billion US dollars, the Communities Delegation to the Board – speaking on behalf of the Civil Society and Communities Delegations – recognised that “Marginalised communities and populations are the first to suffer the consequences of any global pandemic and conflict. Around the world, they are our constant reminder that AIDS, TB and malaria do not go away in times of crisis.

Ukrainian people and communities are suffering and will continue to suffer the graver consequences of the ongoing invasion and bombing of Ukrainian cities and the killing of Ukrainian citizens. The immensity of this destabilisation and the huge social, political, economic and personal cost of this conflict to populations and individuals across the region is yet to be seen. The highest costs are likely to be paid by the most marginalised – in lives, in loss of homes and livelihoods, in rising illness, in lack of access to health care, food security and education, in displacement and forced migration.

All these horrific costs are being paid by people and communities. At the same time, the life-saving services provided and progress achieved over many years in Ukraine with the support of the Global Fund are disrupted and devastated. We urge all in the GF partnership to recognise that those who stayed in Ukraine’s conflict zones and those who have left will need massive support to restore services, to provide for ongoing needs and to ensure continuity of and access to essential prevention, care and treatment. 

As we actively place “communities at the center,” and in continuing global solidarity with our many friends and colleagues caught in the horror of war today, we urgently call on Global Fund to immediately and ambitiously provide support and as much protection as possible to affiliated staff in Ukraine (including CCM members and Principle Recipients), implementers (including Sub-Recipients and all other implementing partners), as well as people receiving needed services and support through Global Fund’s country and regional programs.  

To that end we collectively call for the immediate deployment of Global Fund emergency funds to serve the needs of communities and civil society organisations that are arising as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.

Everyone can do their part to advocate, speak up, contribute, commit, pray and stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine – our friends, our colleagues and our families. There are immediate needs for food and medical supplies, treatments, diagnostics, and more.

This is where the power of our Global Fund partnership can most meaningfully influence, intervene and save lives.

Our delegations deplore and condemn the actions of Russia against the sovereignty and basic human rights of the Ukrainian people. It is up to the strong solidarity and ambition of our partnership to mitigate the damage and destruction to people and programs caused by the actions of Russia.

With appropriate and immediate action, we can help to preserve the impact that the Global Fund has achieved in Ukraine – and across the broader region – over the past 20 years.

We are able, we are uniquely positioned and we are obligated to do so by our commitment to saving lives, protecting human rights and upholding humanity.

Today is Zero discrimination day and we would like to draw your attention to top two diseases which kill our HIV positive friends globally, but yet to receive appropriate attention or in a simple plain word, DISCRIMINATED in our AIDS response.

TB and CM combined, causes almost 70% of AIDS-related deaths globally. However, there has been relatively little investment to address painful deaths from these diseases.

To achieve zero AIDS-related deaths by 2030, we demand the governments, donor countries UN agencies and the industry to stop discrimination towards these two diseases NOW and work together to provide 6 essential tools:

  1. CD4 tests as a entry point to manage AHD and AIDS care
  2. TB lipoarabinomannan (TB LAM) tests  to provide timely TB detection and treatment
  1. TB preventive therapy (TPT) to reduce TB sickness and death
  2. Cryptococcal antigen (CrAg) screening for cryptococcal meningitis
  3. Fluconazole pre-emptive treatment of cryptococcal meningitis
  4. Liposomal amphotericin B (L-AmB), flucytosine, fluconazole to treat cryptococcal meningitis

WE CAN AND WILL SAVE THOUSANDS OF LIVES BY STOP DISCRIMINATING TB AND CM RIGHT NOW!

About FAC

Fight AIDS Coalition (FAC) is a collaboration of PLHIV groups and civil society organisations around the world to advocate for improved response and investment in prevention, treatment, and care for Advanced HIV Diseases. 

GNP+ is excited to be the new host of the Communications and Consultation Facility (CCF) for the NGO Delegation to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB).

The NGO Delegation is one of the oldest manifestations of the GIPA principle. Known as “the backbone of the NGO Delegation”, the mission of the Communication and Consultation Facility (CCF) is to bring forward the perspectives and expertise of people living with, affected by, most at risk of and vulnerable to HIV, as well as civil society, to ensure that UNAIDS is guided by a rights-based, equitable and gender-sensitive approach to guarantee access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for all. 

GNP+ has hosted the Communities Delegation to the Board of Unitaid since 2015 and the Communities Delegation to the Global Fund since 2020. With this announcement, all three of the global community delegations are brought together under one strong coherent and efficient umbrella, providing a unique opportunity to strengthen the HIV community to meet the significant challenges we currently face, including COVID-19.

To fulfill this role, we are recruiting a Communications and Consultation Facility Manager. The CCF Programme Assistant is already in place and continues to support this work.

For more information on criteria and how to apply for the position, click here.

In early February 2022, scientists identified a HIV variant in Europe. Compared to other HIV variants, this variant is both more harmful and more infectious. The good news is that the study also found that HIV treatment is effective against this variant which has been around for years.

According to the researchers “The ‘VB variant’ evolved in the late 80s and 90s in the Netherlands and spread faster than other HIV during the 2000s & has been declining since around 2010. Individuals with VB had similar post-treatment CD4 recovery & similar survival. VB has no drug resistance mutations.” 

As the global networks of people living with HIV, we ask your help to continue to prevent any rise in fear or stigma following this news. The most important message is that treatment works – to improve the health of the person living with HIV and to prevent transmission to others. The U=U (undetectable equals untransmittable) principle applies to this variant as well – so people living with HIV who can stay on treatment have an undetectable viral load and cannot transmit HIV. 

We call on governments and donors to intensify efforts to ensure that everyone has equal access to prevention, testing and treatment for HIV. Do not forget the HIV epidemic and people living with HIV even as we deal with COVID19. 

For more information see a summary and responses to questions by the study team:

https://www.beehive.ox.ac.uk/hiv-lineage/

Communities Delegation to the Global Fund Board appoints Mr. Javier Hourcade Bellocq as Board Member and Mr. Ali Raza Khan as Alternate Board Member

Tuesday, 25th January 2022 – The Communities Delegation of people living with and affected by HIV, TB, and malaria (Communities Delegation) to the Global Fund Board has the pleasure to announce the appointment of Mr. Javier Hourcade as the Board Member and Mr. Ali Raza Khan as the Alternate Board Member. The constituency confirmed and welcomed the new leadership during its online retreat in December 2021. Javier and Ali will serve a two-year term until January 2024.

Mr. Javier Hourcade Bellocq has an extensive career as a communicator in health rights and HIV advocacy. Since his HIV-positive diagnosis in 1988, he has worked with civil society, key populations, and communities living with HIV, TB, and Viral Hepatitis in Latin America and beyond. From the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), he was involved in creating the Global Fund and has since been engaged in different roles in the partnership. Over the past two decades, he has previously served as Communication Focal Point and Board Member for the Communities Delegation and civil society representative in the LAC delegation. He has also provided technical support to the Fund’s national and regional projects, particularly those led by communities. Back at the Communities Delegation since 2021, he currently leads a community journalism initiative called the LAC Key Correspondent Team and the COVID and HIV platform, based in Peru and Argentina, respectively.

Mr. Ali Raza Khan is a young PLHIV activist from Multan, Pakistan, working for his community since 2015, focused on HIV prevention, SRHR, and peace. Over the past few years, he has worked with numerous local, national & international organisations for the rights of young PLHIVs and KPs. He is currently leading “Hi Voices”, an initiative in Pakistan focusing on young vulnerable key populations and PLHIVs. Ali is a laureate of the HIV HERO Award 2021 by APCOM for his effort and work around HIV and PLHIVs. A new member from the Communities Delegation, at only 29 years old, Ali is the delegation’s first youth member to serve in the leadership and has consistently shown a keen interest to learn and an immense commitment to amplifying the voices of communities at the Global Fund Board.

We want to take the opportunity to express our deepest gratitude and admiration for our outgoing Board Member Erika Castellanos. Erika joined the Communities Delegation in 2015 and has since demonstrated an aptitude and appetite to transform and strengthen the representation of communities at the Board level. Natural from Belize, in Central America, Erika served as Alternate Board Member from 2018 to 2020. In December 2020, she became the first transgender woman to ever serve as a Board Member of the Global Fund. Erika’s integrity and unapologetic and skillful leadership have led the delegation through decisive moments. More recently, it has guaranteed that our constituency had a prominent role in shaping the next Strategy.

We thank Erika immensely for the legacy she leaves as a role model of governance official, and we are delighted to retain her as a member of the delegation’s Advisory Working Group (AWG). Erika continued the outstanding leadership from Ms Maurine Murenga, former Communities Delegation Board Member, from 2018 to 2020, and current member of the AWG as well, whom we want to acknowledge for her equally solid and continued commitment to the Communities Delegation.

We also thank Olivia Ngou, our outgoing Alternate Board Member, for her efforts and time dedicated to the delegation. A long-time malaria champion, Olivia added the voices of malaria activists to our discussions, ensuring that their priorities were also well captured in our positions. Born in Cameroon, she focused on connecting the delegation with francophone communities and strengthening our relationship with francophone partners. As a member of the AWG and co-lead of our Strategy Committee working group, we also thank her for her diligence and support with internal affairs and many valuable contributions throughout the new Strategy development process.

The Communities Delegation is looking ahead to a pivotal year in the Global Fund’s new Strategy development process and we look forward to engaging with you in 2022.

Contact:

Bruna Martinez

Constituency Focal Point, Communities Delegation

bmartinez@gnpplus.net

About the Communities Delegation:

The Communities Delegation of people living with and affected by HIV, TB and malaria (Communities Delegation) is one of three civil society constituencies on the Global Fund Board. It has a unique role in leveraging the lived experiences of HIV, TB and Malaria and bringing a human face to the realities of the three diseases. The Communities Delegation is committed to ensuring human rights and gender equality in programmes, with particular attention to key and vulnerable, marginalised, criminalised and stigmatised populations. The delegation engages with its communities and influences decisions with the ultimate aim of ensuring the best equitable and sustainable access to prevention, treatment, care and support services for the three diseases.

Communities Delegation to the Unitaid Board appoints Ms. Maurine Murenga as Board Member and Mr. César Mufanequiço as Alternate Board Member

20 January 2022 (Geneva, Switzerland) —  The Communities Delegation of people living with and affected by HIV, TB and malaria and those coinfected with HIV and HCV (Communities Delegation) to the Unitaid Board is delighted to announce the appointments of Ms Maurine Murenga as the Board Member, and Mr César Mufanequiço as the Alternate Board Member. They have both started their two-year terms on 16th December 2021 and will serve until 31st December 2023.

Picture 1 Maurine

Photo: Maurine Murenga, Board Member

Maurine Murenga is a passionate advocate for the health, development, and human rights of women and girls. With a background in Program Management and Community Development, she is a pioneer amongst the young women and adolescent girls living with HIV movement in Kenya and a fierce advocate towards ending paediatric HIV. Maurine’s passion for advocacy is driven by her lived experience and the inequality and vulnerability that young women and adolescent girls experience in her community. In response to these challenges – she founded the Lean on Me Foundation – an organization that supports access to health services for adolescents, young women, and children living with HIV and affected by TB in Kenya.

Maurine previously served as the Board member of the Communities Delegation on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and was the Alternate Board Member of the Unitaid Communities delegation since February 2021.

A person in a suit and tie

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Photo: César Mufanequiço, Alternate Board member

César has openly been living with HIV since the early 2000s. He is the founding member and national director of MATRAM, the Mozambican treatment access movement, created in 2004 to advocate for access to treatment for people living with HIV in Mozambique, providing treatment education for community preparedness and demand creation. He is a passionate advocate for peer support and equitable access to treatment, locally and beyond.

A person wearing glasses

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Photo: Kenly Sikwese, Outgoing Board member

We would like to take the opportunity to express the Delegation’s gratitude and immense appreciation to out-going Board Member Mr. Kenly Sikwese for his exceptional leadership, enthusiasm, and commitment during his tenure as Board Member of the Communities Delegation from 2018 until 2021.

About Unitaid

Unitaid is a global health agency engaged in finding innovative solutions to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases more quickly, cheaply and effectively, in low- and middle-income countries. Its work includes funding initiatives to address major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, as well as HIV co-infections and co-morbidities such as cervical cancer and hepatitis C, and cross-cutting areas, such as fever management. Unitaid is now applying its expertise to address challenges in advancing new therapies and diagnostics for the COVID-19 pandemic, serving as a key member of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. Unitaid is hosted by the World Health Organization.

Following a two-year consultative process, the Global Fund has launched its new Strategy for 2023-2028, Fighting Pandemics and Building a Healthier and more Equitable World. The Love Alliance welcomes the central role of communities of people living with HIV and key populations in this new Strategy. More than ever, it is key that we build resilient health systems, where strong communities lead, deliver services, are well resourced, and can advocate for their needs. 

The Love Alliance has actively engaged in the process to ensure our priorities of community leadership, human rights, and gender equality are reflected in the Strategy. We participated in the  Global Fund Partnership Forums, submitted four position papers on the Strategy ahead of key Global Fund Board meetings, and co-hosted two webinars with the Global Fund Board Communities delegation. We consistently advocated for the urgent need for direct community funding, a renewed focus on key populations and vulnerable groups, and prioritising health equity, gender equality, and human rights objectives.

What we love about the new Global Fund Strategy 

New aspects of the Strategy will catalyse the Global Fund’s efforts in the HIV response, many of them advocated forby the Love Alliance.

Chief among them is that communities are at the core of all Global Fund work, recognising the vital role communities play in the HIV response. We also welcome the intensified focus on human rights, including leveraging the Global Fund’s diplomatic voice to remove legal and social barriers. We are especially supportive of the Global Fund’s commitment to challenging inequities, human rights, and gender-related barriers to services including stigma, discrimination, and criminalisation of people living with HIV and key populations.

Funding for communities and key populations 

For communities to truly be at the centre of the Global Fund’s work, it requires addressing the funding gap for communities. Less than 2% of HIV funding for 2016 to 2018 went to key populations even though key populations accounted for over half of all new HIV infections.[1]

The Strategy includes a commitment to accelerate the evolution of Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs) and community-led platforms to strengthen inclusive decision-making, oversight, and evaluation in Global Fund processes. However, current power inequalities within CCMs, where community and key populations representatives often have “a seat at the table, but not a say”, mean that communities and key populations need direct funding to be streamlined for these community members.

The Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS[2] commits to increasing the proportion of HIV services delivered by communities.[3] The Love Alliance proposes that a target on direct community funding is clearly mentioned in the M&E framework and in Key Performance Indicators. Strong well-resourced communities build strong health systems, which is key to the Global Fund delivering on this new Strategy. 

To move the rhetoric of communities at the centre to reality, we need direct community funding, a renewed focus on key populations and vulnerable groups, and ensuring that our health equity, gender equality and human rights objectives are achieved.

The Global Fund’s role in future pandemics 

The new Global Fund Strategy outlines the evolving objective on Pandemic Preparedness. The Global Fund partnership should actively promote the lessons from the HIV response, notably that strong and resilient health systems, including strong communities, are the foundation of pandemic preparedness. The Global Fund’s founding principles of equity, community leadership, and human rights must be at the core of the Fund’s work on COVID-19 and in strengthening health systems for future pandemics.

Looking ahead 

Now it is crucial that we ensure through our collective actions that the goals and objectives of the new Strategy are delivered upon. To move the rhetoric of communities at the centre to reality, we need direct community funding, a renewed focus on key populations and vulnerable groups, and ensuring that our health equity, gender equality, and human rights objectives are achieved.

Read the strategy here!


1]  PITCH, Bridging the Gaps, Aidsfonds, 2020, Fast-Track or Off-Track: How insufficient funding for key populations jeopardises ending AIDS by 2030.

[2] United Nations General Assembly, 2020. Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: Ending Inequalities and Getting on Track to end AIDS by 2030. 

[3] The Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS commits to increasing the proportion of HIV services delivered by communities, including by ensuring that by 2025, community-led organisations deliver:

  • 30 % of testing and treatment services, with a focus on HIV testing, linkage to treatment, adherence and retention support, and treatment literacy; 
  • 80 % of HIV prevention services for populations at high risk of HIV infection, including for women within those populations
  • 60 % of programmes to support the achievement of societal enablers

The 21st International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) in Durban, South Africa has come to an end. As a response to the conference, key populations in Africa, those most affected by the policies and funding directed towards the eradication of HIV/AIDS by 2030, have come together on the sidelines of ICASA2021 to draft and sign the Durban Declaration.

Faced with the increasing likelihood that the UNAIDS goal of ‘ending AIDS by 2030‘ is unachievable under the present circumstances, over 100 organisations representing many key populations from across Africa have signed the Durban Declaration. The declaration is a wake-up call to governments, funders, the UN, and private and public foundations that the needs of key populations are not being met, and that donors need to be more accountable, responsive, and flexible in order to adapt to the evolving needs of the communities in Africa.

The GNP+ and Love Alliance proudly signed on to the declaration in solidarity with Africa’s key populations. With that, we ask that Funding for Key Populations be transparent, inclusive, and accountable to addressing barriers to HIV and SRHR service.

Sign the Durban Declaration! 

The GNP+ and Love Alliance invite any organisation that represents key populations in Africa affected by HIV to do the same.

Together, we demand bold action, not empty promises!

Read it & sign here!

On 7 December, the Love Alliance launched its Global Advocacy Strategy for 2022 to 2025 Speak out for Health and Rights during the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA). The Love Alliance is a partnership to build a unifying, strong pan-African movement that promotes access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for people most marginalised and affected by HIV – including sex workers, people who use drugs, LGBTQI+ communities, people living with HIV, including adolescents and young people within these communities.

The launch brought together activists, key population groups, and partners in a hybrid format from Durban, South Africa. The meeting was opened by representatives from UNAIDS, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and the Global Network of Young People Living with HIV ( Y+ Global).  

“Young key populations face many structural barriers such as human rights violations, conservative attitudes about gender, transphobia and homophobia and criminalisation. We face multiple and intersecting barriers when it comes to accessing health care and our rights”,  

said Fahe Kerubo, Programme Officer for Y+ Global.

“This year governments all over the world committed to supporting community-led service delivery. We cannot leave out the people who are most affected. The Global AIDS Strategy shows us that we must implement supportive laws and policies that combat stigma, discrimination, and gender-based violence “ said Jolijn van Haaren, Senior Policy Advisor on HIV/AIDS of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

Challenges facing key populations 

The first panel, moderated by Sbongile Nkosi, co-Executive Director of the Global Network of People living with HIV, addressed the shrinking civic space and the need to invest in societal enablers, including political leadership, partnerships, advocacy, community ownership in repealing punitive laws and policies and addressing gender inequality and ending gender-based violence and violence towards key populations.

Data presented by Sharonann Lynch and Juliette McHardy, from Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, showed that every country where the Love Alliance is active partially or fully criminalises at least one key population group. Progress is also slow in adopting laws and policies that protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status. 

If sex work was not criminalised in South Africa, we would stop sex workers from experiencing stigma and discrimination, and gender-based violence and improve their access to health and justice services and labour and occupation laws to protect and advance human rights 

said Kholi Buthelezi of Sisonke.

In addition to addressing human rights violations, funding communities was another key priority discussed.

“Communities are suffocating because they have no resources. This is an opportunity for us to ensure that programming is going to be long-term and sustainable. Advocacy is not cheap,”

said Richard Lusimbo of ILGA. 

Looking to the future: investing in communities and rights 

The second panel examined how investments to realise global commitments for HIV and SRHR can be scaled up by promoting community-led health and rights interventions.

“The expertise and brilliance of key populations have been rejected over and over again. The issue is, the experts are not being listened to. We’re calling for a revolution. Pennies, policy, and power is essentially the roadmap for key populations to advance”,

said Asia Russell, Director of Health Gap. 

The Love Alliance supports and strengthens key population movements to build and organise. This is particularly done by increasing the presence and visibility of young key populations and building the capacity of key population networks at national and regional levels to hold governments and partners to account.

Our networks and partners work to address human rights, gender equality, violence, criminalisation, stigma and discrimination, resource community-led interventions and realise the objectives of global commitments on HIV, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

“We will be faced with millions of people dying from preventable deaths due to not being able to access healthcare. It is up to us as communities, call on our donor partners and hold them accountable. We need to contribute to building community power,”  

said Linda Mafu, Head of Civil Society and Political Advocacy at the Global Fund.

We have promised ourselves to protect and promote the rights of key populations. We have a lot of work to do as a collective. We need to tackle decriminalisation. It is important that we collect evidence to make the transformation that we need,”

said Samuel Matsikure, from GALZ, in closing the session.

Watch video recording of the Love Alliance hybrid side event 

Love Alliance is committed to protecting, promoting, and fulfilling SRHR globally. Our five-year programme aims to achieve a significant reduction in HIV incidence by influencing policies, organising communities, and raising awareness on rights and health in Morocco, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa. The Love Alliance occupies a critical space in promoting SRHR by unifying marginalized populations in a strong pan-African activist movement, led by young people, and bringing local voices to a global audience to influence decisions that affect their rights, health, and lives.

Love Alliance’s Global Advocacy Strategy focuses on supporting and strengthening key population movements to build and organise, particularly by increasing the presence and visibility of young key populations through partnerships, and building the capacity of key population networks at national and regional levels to push governments and partners to take action to address human rights, gender equality, violence, criminalisation, stigma and discrimination; resource community-led interventions; and realise the objectives of global policies and strategic commitments on HIV, SRHR and UHC.

By working directly and consistently towards the 10-10-10 targets, Love Alliance’s advocacy will advance human rights and gender equality to ensure that key populations and people living with HIV enjoy their freedoms, agency, and access to health.

The community 30-80-60 targets adopted by member states in the Global AIDS strategy and 2021 HLM Political Declaration – that by 2025, communities will deliver 30% of testing and treatment services, 80% of HIV prevention services, and 60% of programmes supporting the achievement of societal enablers – empower Love Alliance to mobilise partners, key population organisations and networks of people living with HIV to push for investments in community-led interventions in global funding mechanisms like PEPFAR, Global Fund, and UHC, as well as the actual operationalisation of these targets at country level.

The global advocacy strategy is available for download in [English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian] here.

From 6-10 December, the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) takes place in Durban, South Africa. On the second day, 7 December, the Love Alliance organises the side event ‘Speak out for health and human rights!’. During this event, we will usher in the Love Alliance Global Advocacy strategy 2022-2025, which focuses on supporting and strengthening key population movements to push for accountability and action.

The next five years are critical for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals and particularly the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. Civil Society and communities of people living with, affected by, and at risk of HIV have a huge role to play in the realization of this global commitment.

Community solidarity is needed now more than ever to influence decisions, engage in implementation and hold governments and partners accountable to the provision of universal health coverage and advancement of human rights for all.

The Love Alliance’s global advocacy strategy focus is on supporting and strengthening key population movements to build and organise, particularly by increasing the presence and visibility of young key populations through partnerships and building the capacity of key population networks at national and regional levels to push governments and partners to take action. This is to address human rights, gender equality, violence, criminalisation, stigma and discrimination; resource community-led interventions; and realise the objectives of global commitments on HIV, SRHR and UHC.

Join the Love Alliance and its partners as we usher in the Love Alliance Global Advocacy strategy 2022-2025!

Will you join ICASA online? Make sure to join our side event virtually! Register here.

Will you be present at ICASA 2021 in Durban? Make sure to join our side event in person! Register here. Please note that the space is limited and registration is mandatory for in-person attendance.

More Love Alliance partners participation at ICASA

GNP overall frames FB

GNP+ participation at ICASA

GNP ICASA 5 Feb FB

By Cedric Nininahazwe, Florence Anam, Omar Syarif, & Alexandra Volgina, GNP+ Programme Managers

1 December 2021

Harmful laws that lead to discrimination, stigma and violence are still hindering global efforts to end AIDS. The United Nations General Assembly has adopted the 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, with clear commitments that include creating an enabling legal environment by reviewing and reforming restrictive legal and policy frameworks, discriminatory laws and practices that create barriers or reinforce stigma and discrimination.[1] Although similar commitments were made in the 2016 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, evidence to date shows slow progress and little concrete action by countries, including those with the highest HIV burden. As we commemorate World AIDS Day, GNP+ calls on all stakeholders to redouble efforts to change the harmful legal environments that restrict the rights and undermine the dignity of people living with or most affected by HIV.

Outdated and non-evidence-based legislation now constitutes one of the main challenges to an effective AIDS response. Most of the countries that criminalized HIV transmission in the 1980s and 90s did so as an emergency response mechanism to the HIV pandemic threat, without scientific data to rightly inform their legislation. However, despite decades of progress and multiple advances in HIV research and responses, many of these laws have not been changed and remain in force. A recent global overview compiled by the HIV Justice Network (2019) finds that 72 countries have laws that specifically allow for HIV criminalization, either because the law is HIV-specific, or because HIV is specified as a disease covered by the law.[2] Ironically just two years later, most of these countries have also adopted the 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, suggesting that such commitments are merely a ritual rather than a reality, something to be signed and then forgotten until the next round. When will this stop? 

Since the beginning, people living with HIV and their families have faced daunting levels of stigma and discrimination due to their perceived or actual HIV status. Many have lost their homes, families, sources of income, their dignity and even their lives as a result. It is hard to believe that 40 years after the start of the AIDS epidemic, we are still fighting for the legal and structural environment that would enable us all to access HIV prevention and treatment without fear or blame.” – Florence Anam, GNP+

The available data support the fact that laws criminalizing HIV transmission and key population communities are counterproductive and hinder all other efforts in the global AIDS response. A systematic review and analysis of sex work laws and sex workers’ health in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, shows that HIV prevalence among sex workers was 39% in countries that criminalized sex work compared with 12% in countries where sex work was partially legalized.[3]

In fact, the legal environment leads to multiple and overlapping experiences of stigma, discrimination and violence for key populations and people living with HIV, making it harder for them to access HIV and SRH services. Recent research shows that countries without criminalized legal environments have achieved better health outcomes in terms of viral load suppression and HIV status knowledge.[4]

“Without joint and robust action towards decriminalization of HIV transmission and key populations, all of the efforts to end AIDS by 2030 will be useless.” – Alexandra Volgina, GNP+

The Global AIDS Strategy’s 10-10-10 targets on societal enablers call for member states to end all inequalities faced by people living with HIV, key populations, and other priority populations by 2025, by reducing to 10% or less the proportion of  women, girls, people living with, at risk of and affected by HIV who experience gender-based inequalities and sexual and gender-based violence;  countries with restrictive legal and policy frameworks that lead to the denial or limitation of access to services; and people experiencing stigma and discrimination.

This World AIDS Day, GNP+ urges governments, policymakers, civil society and donors to take collective action to challenge the criminalization of HIV transmission and key populations on the basis of sound scientific data. To achieve this, GNP+ specifically calls for the following:

  • Government and policymakers to decriminalize HIV transmission and key populations, and to expand the civic space for communities to speak up for their rights
  • Communities and civil society to work in solidarity to challenge criminalization of HIV transmission and key populations and to hold governments accountable for their commitments to create enabling legal environments 
  • Donors to fund communities to engage in monitoring and accountability mechanisms to improve service delivery and accelerate policy change and implementation.

[1] General Assembly resolution 75/284/, Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: Ending Inequalities and Getting on Track to End AIDS by 2030, A/RES/75/284 (9 June 2021), available from undocs.org/A/RES/75/284.

[2] HIV Justice Network (2019) Advancing HIV Justice 3, available at https://www.hivjustice.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/AHJ3-Full-Report-English-Final.pdf (accessed 24 November 2021).

[3] Platt L, Grenfell P, Meiksin R, Elmes J, Sherman S, Sanders T et al. (2018) ‘Associations between sex work laws and sex workers’ health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative studies’, PLoS Med. 15:e1002680.

[4] Kavanagh, M, Agbla, S, Joy, M, Aneja, K, Pillinger, M, Case, A, Erondu, N, Erkkola, T, & Graeden, E (2021) ‘Law, criminalisation and HIV in the world: have countries that criminalise achieved more or less successful pandemic response?’ BMJ Global Health, 6(8), e006315.