Monrovia – Ahead of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS slated from 8–10 June in New York, the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) on Friday, April 15, at its County Offices in Monrovia, concluded a day interactive engagement with six civil society organizations on fast tracking approach to ending the AIDS epidemic over the next five years.
The Liberia Network of People Living with HIV (LIBNEP+), Light Association, Positive Living, Eye Association, Stop AIDS in Liberia (SAIL) and the Anti-AIDS Media Network (AAMIN), were the organizations represented.
Civil society organizations during the meeting were asked to focus attention on developing innovative approach that tends to bring an end to the AIDS epidemic.
UNAIDS’ Rights, Gender and Country Community Mobilisation Adviser, Musa Bullaleh, said the 2016 HLM comes at a critical moment in the history of the HIV epidemic and response. He said the meeting will build on the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the commitment to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.
“Ensuring the success of the SDGs, including ending the AIDS epidemic, will require global solidarity, and shared responsibility and innovative partnership, especially in times of diverse and demanding global challenges, civil society in Liberia must focus and/or develop new approach to ending the AIDS epidemic,” Mr. Bullaleh noted.
According to him, countries’ commitment to fast-tracking the HIV response over the next five years will set the world on course to end the AIDS epidemic because the next 5 years are a fragile window of opportunity; “if we do not Fast-track our response, we risk a rebound of the epidemic,” UNAIDS’ Rights, Gender and Country Community Mobilisation Adviser maintained.
Speaking earlier, UNAIDS Country Director, Dr. Betru Woldesemayat welcomed the six participating civil society organizations to the day’s engagement.
He said UNAIDS is committed to working with partners to advocate for a political declaration that will set bold new targets for HIV treatment, prevention, human rights and investment.
“We have to get it right. The choices made at the high-level meeting and the commitments made in the Political Declaration will set the world on a path to end AIDS or prolong the epidemic indefinitely.
The world cannot afford to slide backwards on existing commitments and allow HIV to rebound,” Dr. Woldesemayat averred: “If we reach the Fast-Track Targets by 2020, we can prevent the HIV epidemic from rebounding and focus on the ultimate goal of achieving the end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. Averred
Meanwhile, the HLM Country Consultations will involve UNAIDS’ engagement with governments, PLHIV and all stakeholders to jointly review the 2011 Political Declaration and in particular the 10 targets; to identify how they will reach the goal of ending AIDS by 2030 as called for under the SDGs, Goal 3, and an engagement with media to popularize the upcoming 2016 HLM in New York and sensitize national partners about its importance and its aims.