On the eve of the 2016 International AIDS Conference, eight global HIV advocacy groups have released a consensus statement setting out basic principles for provision of antiretroviral treatment (ART) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). You can read it and sign your support at www.hivt4p.org.
“If you can't agree to this, why not?”
The HIV epidemic could become a thing of the past if everyone involved in providing HIV drugs as treatment and as prevention sticks to these principles, respecting the rights of people with or at high risk of HIV.
AVAC, the European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG), the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+), HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition and NAM/aidsmap have released the Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention as a sign-on statement for endorsement by as many people working with and affected by HIV as possible.
Simon Collins of HIV i-Base says, “This clear community demand for the right for universal access to ART is an essential step to achieving our common goal to end AIDS.”
“We wanted to hold people's feet to the fire in the world of HIV,” says NAM/aidsmap’s Gus Cairns, who helped write the statement, “and say essentially, 'If you can't agree to this, why not?' We'd like to see it adopted by the organisations that write treatment guidelines and run programmes as a sort of DNA for what they are doing, the basic principles underlying and directing their actions.”
What’s in the statement?
The statement emphasises that treatment should be free and offered to everyone with HIV without coercion. Information about treatment and support to take it should be available for everyone. Income, gender, sexuality, age, drug use or social status should not prevent people from getting HIV treatment.
The statement also covers the use of antiretroviral drugs by people who are HIV-negative to prevent HIV infection, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. The option to use PrEP should be available for all people who need it and information about PrEP should be available to all people at risk of HIV infection. PrEP should be offered now to all people at high risk of HIV infection, the statement recommends.
Gus says, "At heart, the statement says two things: Don't withhold HIV treatment; equally, don't enforce it. People have the right to treatment, but also the right to the information and freedom they need to take it as a choice."
What should I do with the statement?
Please take the time to visit www.hivt4p.org and read the statement. If you agree with it, then please sign it and share it with your networks.
Reflect on what the statement says and encourage others to do the same – how can you act on it? Can you use it in advocacy work, or in helping people to understand their rights? Can you adopt it into policies or procedures where you work? Can you use it as a starting point for discussion or personal writing?
We’d love to hear where you take the statement.