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UNAIDS Highlights Community-Led Initiatives as Key to Ending AIDS Pandemic

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Dil Bar Irshad
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UNAIDS Highlights Community-Led Initiatives as Key to Ending AIDS Pandemic

As the world prepares to commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has underscored the vital role of community-led initiatives in the battle to put an end to the AIDS pandemic. The UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, has drawn attention to the worrisome decline in financial backing for community organizations, a decrease that is leading to the loss of lives.

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Communities in the Frontline of HIV Response

Byanyima has spotlighted the adverse effects of crackdowns on civil society, the violation of human rights of marginalized communities, and detrimental laws and policies targeted at at-risk populations. These factors interfere with effective HIV prevention and treatment. The report posits a call to action for governments and international partners to empower and support community leadership in the HIV response. It reiterates the fact that those living with and impacted by HIV are central to this response and should be recognized and assisted as leaders in their communities.

2021 Political Declaration on AIDS

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The report also refers to a political declaration from a 2021 United Nations high-level meeting on AIDS. This declaration includes several commitments to strengthen community initiatives and set ambitious targets to eliminate punitive laws and discrimination against marginalized groups by 2025. Furthermore, it features nine guest essays from community leaders who discuss the obstacles they face and the necessary actions needed from governments and international partners to attain the goal of ending AIDS by 2030.

Reducing HIV Prevalence

It's been almost three decades since landmark studies demonstrated significant results in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has been instrumental in expanding access to life-saving treatments for children and adults living with HIV. The aim is to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic by 2030 by achieving the 95-95-95 targets. Botswana's accomplishments in reducing HIV prevalence among pregnant women serve as a crucial model for other countries. Testing and early access to antiretroviral therapy are essential, but obstacles such as stigma and discrimination still prevent people from getting tested and receiving timely treatment.

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