Country representatives discussed new targets for HIV prevention and zero discrimination with the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. They also agreed to work on legislation favorable to people living with or affected by HIV.
Rio de Janeiro, 24 August 2015 (PAHO/WHO, UNAIDS) — The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have set new regional targets for 2020, aiming to reduce new HIV infections, guarantee a coordinated and comprehensive approach to HIV prevention, and achieve an environment of zero stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and the populations most affected by the epidemic.
These targets include a 75% reduction in new HIV infections in adults and young people in the next five years, as well as access to combination HIV prevention packages for 90% of transsexuals, gay men and other men who have sex with men, and sex workers by 2020. Another goal is to remove legislation that can be used to discriminate against people living with or affected by HIV. The most vulnerable populations in the region include gay men and other men who have sex with men, transsexual women, sex workers and their clients, drug users, young adults and adolescents, women and children, incarcerated people, transient populations, indigenous and Afro-descendant populations, homeless people, and female victims of violence.
The targets were agreed to during the second Latin American and Caribbean Forum on the HIV Continuum of Care——"Improving combination HIV prevention to strengthen the continuum of prevention and care"——held last week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"Ending the AIDS epidemic involves ending the epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean," said Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. "Despite the expansion of integrated and decentralized care and treatment services in the region, this progress must be balanced with a renewed emphasis on effective and innovative interventions and strategies, based on an approach involving combination HIV prevention and human rights," said César A. Núñez, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Latin America.
"New infections and mortality are not declining as quickly as we would wish. The HIV epidemic continues to be concentrated in specific population groups that find it difficult to access and receive services," said Marcos Espinal, Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). "This Forum is an opportunity to expand health care services with a combination prevention approach and with the same determination that has enabled us to advance toward the elimination of mother-to-child transmission," he added.
It is estimated that around two million people are living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean and that in 2014 there were approximately 100,000 new HIV infections in the region.
The new targets for HIV prevention and zero discrimination, together with the 90-90-90 targets for HIV care approved last year in Mexico, constitute a set of objectives reached by consensus among national HIV/AIDS programs, civil society, international cooperation agencies, and people living with and affected by HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean, to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
HIV prevention targets
In the Forum, countries agreed to take action to reduce new HIV infections by 75% by 2020 (baseline 2010) in adults and young people 15-24 years of age, including the populations most affected by HIV.
Between 2010 and 2014 the number of new HIV infections in Latin America and the Caribbean decreased by only 3%. The representatives of the countries agreed on the need to advance more quickly in reducing new infections and taking effective prevention programs to the populations and places most affected by the epidemic. Combination prevention, the integration of prevention and treatment services, community involvement, and innovation will help maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of HIV service delivery.
It was also agreed that 90% of the most vulnerable populations (gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, and sex workers) should have access to prevention services by 2020, and that the same percentage of those populations should be reporting condom use in most recent sexual intercourse. Another goal is that within five years 90% of young people aged 15-24 can correctly identify the ways of preventing HIV infection.
Subregional targets were also established. In South America, for example, 90% of drug users should be using condoms in their sexual relations within the next five years; and in the Caribbean, 90% of young people aged 15-24 who have had more than one sex partner in a year should be reporting condom use by 2020.
Zero discrimination targets
Recognizing that prejudice, stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS aggravate the epidemic and are significant barriers to accessing services, participants in the Forum reached a consensus on zero discrimination targets, including the following: no new legislation, regulations, or policies should be approved that could be used to discriminate against people with HIV or key populations; all countries should have a funded monitoring system to address discrimination by health workers against people with HIV and key populations; the number of violent acts and hate crimes against people living with or affected by HIV, including LGBTI people and sex workers, should be reduced in 75% of the countries; and 90% of the countries should have protective systems, policies, and/or legislation with mechanisms to report and deal with human rights violations, including those involving HIV and key populations.
About the Forum
The Latin American and Caribbean Forum on the HIV Continuum of Care was organized by the Government of Brazil, the Horizontal Technical Cooperation Group (HTCG); PANCAP (Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV & AIDS); the Aids Health Foundation (AHF), IAPAC, PEPFAR/USAID/CDC, organized civil society networks, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, PAHO/WHO, UNAIDS, UNICEF, and UNDP.
Participants in the Forum included more than 150 representatives of the region's HIV/AIDS programs, civil society networks and organizations, key populations and those most affected by the epidemic, people living with HIV, academic and scientific communities, programs, United Nations agencies, international organizations, and bilateral cooperation agencies.
About PAHO and UNAIDS
PAHO works with the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of its population. Founded in 1902, it is the world's oldest international public health agency. It serves as the Regional Office of WHO for the Americas and is the specialized health agency of the Inter-American system.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations (UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO, and the World Bank) and works closely with global and national partners to maximize the results of the response to AIDS.
Michela Polesana, Phone + 507 3014626 Cell + 507 69494371 Communications, UNAIDS www.onusida-latina.org