Countries Urged to Review Progress Made in Achieving National AIDS Targets

Gaborone/Geneva, 18 February 2010 – UNAIDS is calling for an international effort to renew commitment for countries to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Countries are urged to undertake an open and inclusive consultation process—bringing together governments, development partners, civil society organizations, networks of people living with HIV and community groups to review the progress made in reaching country targets for universal access. UNAIDS will support countries and regional bodies in convening these reviews.

The call to action was made by UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibé while on an official visit to Botswana.

“Universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support is about achieving equity. This is a groundbreaking global movement that is saving millions of lives,” said Mr Sidibé. “However progress has been uneven so now we need to take stock of what’s working and what is not and to link future national progress in AIDS to the Millennium Development Goals.”

UNAIDS has lauded Botswana in its progress towards achieving its universal access targets. Despite having one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, the country has been able to provide antiretroviral treatment to more than 80% of people in need. It has also made significant strides in preventing mother to child transmission of HIV, achieving over 93% coverage in 2009. Botswana was one of the first countries in Africa to adopt universal access targets.

“Our success has been possible due to strong commitment on part of the government, development partners and civil society to collectively set ambitious targets and overcome bottlenecks,” said Lesego Motsumi, Botswana’s Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. “In this regard we welcome the UNAIDS call to review our progress made in achieving universal access to guide us in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.”

The universal access movement was launched in 2006 when UN member states signed a political declaration to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Its aim is to ensure that people everywhere have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010. Countries affirmed their commitments by setting ambitious national targets. However progress towards these targets has varied—with some countries exceeding some of their targets but not reaching others.

“It is now time for people living with HIV, community groups and our governments to sit down together and talk honestly about where we are and where we need to go to change the course of the epidemic,” said David Ngele, a representative of the Botswana Network of People living with HIV.
The country and regional level reviews, which will take place in all regions of the world, will utilize the data collected for the 2010 country progress reports as the basis to identify barriers and strategies to meet their targets in 2010 and beyond. UNAIDS will convene an international advisory team to analyze the review reports and make recommendations on how to redouble progress towards universal access.

UNAIDS is committed to ensure that regional bodies for political, social and economic cooperation are engaged in supporting this process, which will take place over the course of 2010. “In Africa, this process will enable countries across the continent to measure their progress against the commitments made at the African Union in Brazzaville in 1996 to reach universal access by 2010,” said Mr Sidibé.

The 2010 reviews will provide a forum to hold partners accountable as well as celebrate achievements. In addition, implementers and policy makers can jointly chart out new strategies to remove programme implementation barriers. These consultations will provide an opportunity to analyze existing approaches to HIV prevention, identifying gaps and priorities. The process should catalyze a prevention revolution that aims for zero new HIV infections including the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission. It will also help countries re-adjust their plans on access to HIV treatment based on the new treatment guidelines and begin thinking about treatment 2.0 ─ a new generation of treatment options that are sustainable.

The ongoing economic crisis and the ensuing cuts in national budgets and international aid investments have exposed the vulnerabilities of national AIDS programmes. The reviews will include an assessment of current AIDS spending patterns and propose new investment options that are aligned to local epidemic trends, and increase efficiencies.

Outcomes of the review are expected to result in the revision of national strategic frameworks, rejuvenating national AIDS responses. These reviews will provide countries with an impetus to accelerate progress towards achieving national universal access targets as a means to realizing the Millennium Development Goals.

Contact: Dominique De Santis | tel. +41 22 791 4767 |


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