In 2011, the UN and member states set a goal of reaching 15 million people on AIDS treatment by 2015—a goal many questioned but that will be met next year. Since then, evidence and tools available have changed and it is clear that simply tracking testing and treatment is not good enough. Critically, it is now clear that suppressing the HIV virus with high-quality HIV drugs keeps people living with HIV alive and healthy while also preventing HIV transmission.
“We are demanding quality in the response. Reaching and maintaining an “undetectable viral load” is the closest thing we have to a cure for HIV,” said Bactrin Killingo of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), endorsers of the statement. “But today most people living with HIV outside wealthy countries don’t even know their viral load because they’ve never had access to the test. And too many do not have the treatment they need to control the virus—often because they do not have access to a basic HIV test. This is a violation of basic human rights—all people deserve the information, medicine, and support needed to control and suppress the virus.”
The aspiration of ending AIDS is an essential one, but activists made clear that the current global trajectory will not reach that goal. “Too many people still do not have access to affordable treatment and the fully funded programs for treatment support, social protection, and defense of human rights that would allow them to achieve viral suppression,” said Asia Russell of Health GAP. “The Global Fund, PEPFAR, and national governments are falling short of funding and we demand that full funding—no more than a rounding error in global budgets—that is needed to enable undetectable viral loads to become a reality for all by 2020.”
Activists called on governments to:
- Use every tool available to eliminate patent barriers that make ARVs and other drugs unaffordable in many countries.
- Push hard for affordable viral load testing—no single viral load test anywhere in the world should cost more than 10 USD and further price reductions should be possible.
- Fully fund the HIV treatment response including fully funding national programs, the Global Fund, PEPFAR, and other initiatives.
- Fully fund strong, accountable, community-based treatment literacy and adherence support along with strong social protection programs.
- Commit to a human rights based HIV response by combating criminalization, discrimination, and stigma and averting coercive practices by putting in place a strong community led rights infrastructure.
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Melbourne, Australia—Leading activist groups in the global AIDS movement at the International AIDS Conference today launched a call for a bold new focus on enabling every person with HIV to achieve an “undetectable” viral load and challenged political leaders to set national and global targets to deliver on the means to achieve that goal by 2020. The organizations called on governments and international agencies to expand financing financing and treatment options and reform laws and policies to enable access for all.
The full statement is available at: