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World AIDS Day 2023 – Put communities first!

World AIDS Day 2023

This World AIDS Day, the IAS calls on all stakeholders to put communities first! It's long been known that progress in the HIV response hinges on community leadership.

Community leadership in the AIDS response is its fundamental pillar for success” because community has “unmatched experience, expertise and reach”, authors of a special World AIDS Day viewpoint in the Journal of the International AIDS Society state.

And as the 2023 UNAIDS Global AIDS Update emphasizes, countries that put people and communities first in their policies and programmes are leading the way in the HIV response.

However, community-driven efforts are underutilized and underfunded globally. Around the world, 9.2 million people living with HIV are not accessing life-saving treatment and 630,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2022 – that is one life every minute. HIV is still most prevalent in central, eastern, western and southern Africa, home to 65% of all people living with HIV.

Contributing to this is a lack of community-focused HIV prevention services, funding and innovative approaches for marginalized and key populations, as well as barriers posed by punitive laws and discrimination.

We must recognize that communities impacted by HIV are the best, and most valid, source of information about what is needed in an effective HIV response.

We must champion and help expand community-first solutions and approaches.

What do community-first approaches look like?

  • Community-led monitoring: This evidence-based model empowers community members in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data to identify and address challenges. It can help improve the accessibility, acceptability, affordability and quality of services.
     
  • Community-based participatory research: Putting people first in product design and clinical trials means engaging communities living with and affected by HIV throughout the research process to identify, design and co-create desirable and accessible tools.
  • Community advocacy: This empowers individuals and communities to shape decisions that affect their lives. For example, community advocacy in France, arguing that offering condoms alone was not enough to prevent HIV acquisition through sex, resulted in the country becoming the first to support PrEP on demand through its national healthcare system.

A day for remembrance and reflection

On World AIDS Day, IAS President Sharon Lewin remembers the people we have lost and reflects on how far we have come.  

It's only by coming together that we will realize our vision of a world in which HIV no longer presents a threat to public health and individual well-being. We invite you to join thousands of HIV stakeholders from around the world at AIDS 2024, the 25th International AIDS Conference, and HIVR4P 2024, the 5th HIV Research for Prevention Conference.

Join the call to action

We will never end the pandemic until we put communities first.

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We encourage you to check out our community-focused World AIDS Day resources below. And join the conversation on social media by sharing why you think we must #PutCommunitiesFirst and how we can do it.

Finally, we encourage you to put communities first not only in your World AIDS Day message but every day by supporting, empowering and equipping people with the resources and funding to directly drive change in their communities.

How IAS Members are putting communities first

The IAS is the world’s largest association of HIV professionals, with more than 15,000 members in over 170 countries. Our members are leading and catalysing change in communities around the world.

Discover some of our members’ powerful stories and the impact they are making in their communities:

IAS Young Leader Elizabeth Onyango is an IAS Youth Hub Seed Grant recipient. Her project, "Put a ring on it", with the support of the Coast Sex Workers Alliance (COSWA) Kenya, is "empowering young sex workers to be meaningfully engaged in all spaces where decisions about their sexual and reproductive health are being made".

IAS Member Jemma Samitpol shares how she is serving the trans community in Thailand as the Tangerine Clinic Supervisor for the Institute of HIV Research and Innovation (IHRI).

IAS Member Garfield Durrant shares how he is putting his community first as the Men’s Prevention Specialist (Lead) for the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP) in Toronto, Canada.

World AIDS Day viewpoints in the Journal of the International AIDS Society

The Journal of the International AIDS Society (JIAS) has released two special viewpoints to mark World AIDS Day

Authors from community-based organizations have written a viewpoint, titled “Let us lead: community leadership in the AIDS response is its fundamental pillar for success”.

John Nkengasong and other key stakeholders in the HIV response have authored a viewpoint, titled “Sustaining the HIV/AIDS Response: PEPFAR's Vision”, which calls for a "coordinated and enabling response that centres community voices".

Special HIV unmuted World AIDS Day podcast

Join us on World AIDS Day for a special podcast episode to hear the stories of people growing older with HIV, including their perspectives on putting communities first. Discover the challenges, triumphs and essential messages of their journeys.

Find out more

To learn more about this topic, here are some resources:

IAS content links

Growing older with HIV in the Treat‐All Era. Guest Editors: Reena Rajasuriar, Heidi M. Crane, Aggrey S. Semeere: Journal of the International AIDS Society: Vol 25, No S4 (wiley.com) 

The papers in this supplement emphasize the need to increase the capacity to design, test and evaluate different models of care for older people living with HIV and show how research can be used to guide policy, care and treatment of people growing older with HIV. Older people living with HIV should be part of the teams that design and evaluate implementation strategies – their lived experiences are an invaluable resource for programmes. Health systems that provide care for people living with HIV will need to evolve in response to the available evidence to meet the health needs of all people living with HIV beyond that of viral suppression. Countries will need to adopt integrated-care approaches to HIV service provision that is scalable in countries with a high HIV burden to achieve longer and richer healthspans for all people growing older with HIV.

View resources on ageing with HIV on IAS+

Access resources on ageing with HIV in six languages on IAS+, a new interactive digital platform that provides free HIV-related educational resources and virtual live events to empower scientists, policy makers and community activists around the world.

Examples from community-led organizations 

The Glasgow Manifesto by the International Coalition of Older People with HIV (iCOPe HIV) | EATG

Equitable health outcomes for people ageing with HIV are possible only if we work in collaboration with them. People with lived experience and living expertise must be at the centre of any decision or action taken in response to self-identified needs. The coalition calls on healthcare providers, researchers, community-based HIV organizations, frontline providers of ageing-related services and policy and decision makers to work in partnership with it to fund and implement its calls to action. 

Long-Term Survivors & HIV Cure Research: Monthly webinar series, 2023 

Founded in 2011 and led by Keith Jerome and Hans-Peter Kiem at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, defeatHIV is a consortium of scientific investigators and clinicians from public and private research organizations who are committed to finding a cure for HIV. This series of webinars, co-sponsored by The Well Project, discusses the needs of people who have lived with HIV for many years and their specific concerns around research towards a cure for HIV.

Educational resources for healthcare providers 

PRIME® Practical Toolkit for Providing Holistic Care for Ageing People With HIV (primeinc.org) 

This toolkit contains straightforward guidance for caring for older people with HIV, including navigating co-morbidities and polypharmacy, screening and managing chronic diseases, coordinating care across specialists, and supporting mental wellness. It also contains materials for providers to distribute to encourage healthcare clients to be active participants in their own care. These tools were developed with US and European HIV experts. Download the free toolkit in a selection of languages. 

Ageing With HIV: Best Practices (medscape.org) 

This activity is intended for HIV specialists, primary care physicians and nurses. The goal is for learners to be better able to answer common questions on best practices in caring for people living with HIV and those who are heavily treatment experienced as they age.  

Share why we must put communities first!

Access free social graphics and join the conversation on social media by sharing why you think we must #PutCommunitiesFirst and how we can do it.