“Ending AIDS” will mean filling cracks and chasms of neglect, inequity and exclusion . . . We’re reading about HLM 2016 AIDS

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IMG_1086The United Nations High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS this week could give the impression by its name alone that, but for a few loose ends, the end of HIV as a global health threat is within grasp. But in numbers alone, with fewer than half the people living with HIV worldwide accessing the antiretroviral treatment they need, and a fraction of those accessing treatment that is reliable and consistent enough to suppress their virus, the world is not even halfway there. On the way to New York, we’re reading about some of what it will take to fill the cracks and chasms that cross the path between now and the end of the pandemic.

The need for routine viral load testing – A wide difference in access to routine viral load testing, a given in settings in high-income countries, still a relative novelty in low-income countries, is one of the great inequities that will have to be confronted if HIV is to be controlled. This paper from UNAIDS explains why.

Action on human rights is essential to achieving “the end of AIDS” – Discriminatory neglect and exclusion have eased the global spread of HIV since the first cases were recognized in 1981, and yet now, even amid talk of having the knowledge, the treatment and the tools to end the pandemic, the need to eliminate laws and policies that stand between people and health care continues to be treated as a subject of controversy this week at the United Nations. This explains why a “political declaration” that fails to address the greatest gaps in HIV responses will be a commitment to the status quo.

Out of Focus — How millions of people in West and Central Africa are being left out of the global HIV response – While ambitious goals and unambitious funding combine to direct a laser-like focus to “high-burden settings”, this report from Médecins Sans Frontières describes the impact of HIV in West and Central Africa where antiretroviral treatment remains out of reach for an estimated three out of four people.

Mr. Ban, name and shame the bigots – Members of 439 civil society organizations along with representatives of the governments of member states will be at the meeting this week, but a number of nongovernment organizations representing populations with the most critical input to offer have been prevented from attending by their governments. Stephen Lewis of AIDS-free World makes a modest proposal here to raise awareness of the entrenchment in discriminatory policies that continues to slow progress against the pandemic.

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