FOCUSING POLICY WORK FOR GREATEST IMPACT
Developments at the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) highlighted a turning point in the history of HIV/AIDS. Promising new evidence on the effectiveness of vaginal microbicides (CAPRISA trial) and treatment strategies for HIV tuberculosis co-infection (CAMELIA trial - Blanc FX, Sok T, Laureillard D et al, AIDS 2010) demonstrated that new prevention and treatment strategies can significantly reshape the HIV response.
Despite a turbulent economic period and global political retraction on HIV/AIDS – illustrated by the unsatisfactory replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in October 2010 – the AIDS community, encouraged by emerging scientific data, continues to strive to reach the goals set out 10 years ago in the UNGASS Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and five years ago in the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS. Given the confluence of several important HIV and health-related benchmarks in 2011, the International AIDS Society is convinced that now, more than ever, priorities and actions need to be harmonized between the different key stakeholders engaged globally in HIV/AIDS field.
At its November 2010 retreat in Geneva, the IAS Governing Council (GC) reviewed past and ongoing IAS policy advocacy work in light of the overall HIV/AIDS response. Based on scientific evidence, major reports by leading actors such as UNAIDS and the World Health Organization and the direction provided by the current IAS strategic plan, the GC agreed on priority areas for 2011 and 2012. In setting the priorities, the GC used several criteria, including the unique contribution and leadership role that the IAS can play, the expertise and experience in the IAS and the changing profile of its membership, the potential use of IAS conferences, and the likelihood of securing funding.
The IAS will play a leadership role in four areas and work through partnerships and representation in other key areas.
Fifteen years ago, even the most optimistic members of the scientific community were silent about the prospect of a cure or vaccine. Today, there is a reemergence of hope that the long-term remission of infected individual can be a realistic objective. Given the increasing interest in the potential for an HIV cure, the IAS, under the direction of its President-Elect Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, will advocate for advancing and coordinating research in the hope of developing a functional or sterilizing cure for HIV. To this end, IAS will concentrate its initial efforts on establishing a global scientific strategy “Towards an HIV Cure”.
Another major focus will be to challenge current drug policies and improve conditions for people who inject drugs. The IAS believes that evidence-informed interventions are the best way to implement treatment scale-up and will continue to advocate for expanding access to opioid substitution therapy. At AIDS 2010, the IAS mobilized its members from the Eastern European and Central Asian region and hopes to extend its work in this policy area, as injecting drug use is a growing concern in many regions where IAS members are based.
Treatment as Prevention
The concept of using Treatment as Prevention (TasP) has now gathered sufficient evidence for it to be rolled out in particular populations. The IAS believes that to effectively implement TasP, key stakeholders engaged at every level of the HIV response need to deliberate on how and what needs to be done to translate scientific evidence into practice and bring TasP to the level of countries and communities. The IAS has convened an Advisory Group and will carry out in-country consultations to ensure that TasP is rolled out promptly, fairly and successfully.
Social and Political Research
Basic and clinical sciences have accomplished amazing progress understanding and responding to HIV and AIDS. Yet, as documented by many experts and the World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, the understanding of the social structures that drive the HIV epidemic is limited. Social and political research can play a key role by modeling structural interventions, for example. Responding to the concern that social and political researchisnot sufficiently reflected and included in IAS conferences or in the HIV response, the IAS will seek to catalyze and promote social and political researchresearch through its conferences and with its partners.
Finally, the IAS will focus on the critical connection between human rights and HIV. Whilst continuing to defend the human rights of key vulnerable populations, the IAS will also campaign for the promotion and protection of its members’ rights to guarantee that all HIV professionals can fully and freely practice their occupation.
Effectiveness and Efficiency (E2)
Effectiveness and Efficiency (E2) in country programmes is vital to global efforts to ensure that the available resources provide HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support to the largest possible number of people. For this to succeed every stakeholder must join in the undertaking; IAS and its partners are uniquely positioned to convene and mobilize HIV professionals. Working with countries and together with confirmed partners, including UNAIDS, the World Bank and the Global Fund, IAS will convene an international multi-stakeholder consultation on E2S, 19-20 April 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Partnering with Membership
By working and partnering with its members, the IAS will be able to significantly move these policy priorities forward. IAS members confront various issues in their every day work and are experts in identifying and developing methods and processes built upon local contexts. The IAS secretariat hopes to work closely with its membership and partners to clarify their concerns, share advice, and benefit from past and ongoing experiences.
The IAS will gather members’ opinions through IAS membership surveys and plan efforts and work according to the inputs and expectations of the members. Based on the survey results, the secretariat will facilitate the formation of thematic working groups and organize consultations with regards to the four policy priorities outlined above, as well as other areas, including issues such as effectiveness and efficiency of AIDS programmes including increased funding by affected countries.
Other priority areas
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The Drug Policy Advocacy Training Toolkit in Vilnius
56th Commission on Narcotic Drugs
Impunity and violence against transgender women in Latin America
Open letters from the President and the Executive Director of the IAS
18 February 2013
Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Nepal
21 January 2013
Letter to the Secretary of the 19th Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines Medicine Access and Rational Use (MAR) Department of Essential Medicine and Health Products, World Health Organization
Hepatitis C virus chronic infection affects more than 150 million people. There are also a serious concern of the HIV /HCV co-infection in our communities and the increased vulnerability of those who are living with HIV and those who inject drugs, to succumb to HCV. Though pegylated interferon along with ribavirin is the standard of care for the treatment of hepatitis C, it is prohibitively expensive in most of low- and middle- income countries. This contributes to the unacceptable situation, where HCV related care- from diagnosis to treatment, is inaccessible to a majority of those who are affected by HCV.
The International AIDS Society supports the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)’s application for the inclusion of pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines. The President and the Executive Director of IAS have written a letter to the WHO affirming this.