UN declaration fails key populations: progress in ending AIDS at risk

A Political Declaration agreed by UN member states this week risks rolling back the progress achieved in the global response to HIV/AIDS by a decade.

The declaration adopted by member states at this week’s UN High Level Meeting on ending AIDS (8-10 June) has been condemned for effectively reversing years of struggle for recognition by groups representing people living with HIV.

While the declaration includes commitments on important issues such as treatment, community responses and financing, it fails to meet the needs of key populations (men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, sex workers, and transgender people).

It is a critical mistake and a missed opportunity to put us on the right path to bring an end to AIDS

Shaun Mellors, Associate Director Africa, at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, said: “This political declaration is very worrying and signals a faltering response to HIV/AIDS that, in our view, is a critical mistake and a missed opportunity to put us on the right path to bring an end to AIDS”.

“It is not simply that references to key populations have been removed from significant parts of the document, what’s worrying are the context in which they are mentioned. Key populations are mainly mentioned as people affected by a disease, with the implicit stigma and discrimination that comes loaded with that, as opposed to being people with human rights and agency.”

Latest research by UNAIDS shows that key populations are not only absent from the political discourse at places like the UN, but are also disproportionately absent from the prevention and treatment of HIV globally.

Read our full media statement, including the latest figures.