Doctors Without Borders Response to 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS

UN governments adopted a Political Declaration on Ending AIDS during the UN’s High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS in New York on June 8, 2016, in which governments have committed to reaching 30 million people with HIV treatment by 2020.

“We are encouraged to see that with this declaration, governments are committing to almost double the number of people on HIV treatment in the next three and half years, heeding the latest medical recommendations that everyone with HIV should start treatment immediately once diagnosed. The new global HIV treatment goals can only be achieved if the countries that are lagging behind, such as those in West and Central Africa, are given a booster shot, by tripling the pace that people are put on treatment. Every day in our programs in countries like Guinea, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo, we see the unnecessary illness and death caused by the neglect of this region.

Today, governments have endorsed UNAIDS’ global “90-90-90” targets, which will underline the importance of making sure people not only know their HIV status and are started on treatment, but that every effort is made to help people stick to their treatment in the long run, with “undetectable” levels of virus in their blood.

To make this declaration a reality, there will need to be a steady source of affordable HIV medicines – treatment that cost $10,000 per person per year 15 years ago today is priced at just $100 per year, thanks to fierce competition among generic medicine producers in countries like India. In this declaration, governments recognize that they must make sure there are no barriers to people’s access to medicines, yet through trade agreements being negotiated in multiple countries, and persistent pressure on India to change its intellectual property rules, the future of affordable medicines is under threat. Landmark discussions are ongoing at the UN on access to medicines to look at how needed medicines can be developed and be affordable to the people who need them.”

--Sharonann Lynch, HIV/TB policy advisor at MSF’s Access Campaign