Following a three day General Assembly High Level Meeting concluded last Friday, UN leaders adopted a Political Declaration to take “bold and decisive action” to wipe out HIV/AIDS. In this declaration emphasis was placed on definite goals for drastically effecting the transmission and response to HIV/AIDS–for example, by halving the current levels of transmission among drug users and a pledge for a US$2 billion dollar increase in AIDS related spending in low- and middle-income countries.
This General Assembly High Level Meeting immediately followed a UN security council resolution that included greater protection for violence against women during conflict and measures to protect against HIV for combatants during conflict. Concerns regarding gender were mirrored in the summit’s declared pledge to eliminate gender inequality, an end to gender-based violence and abuse, and empowerment for women and girls of all ages.
Also announced was the launch of a new joint initiative between the UN and US, “Countdown to Zero”–a plan to eliminate HIV in newborns by 2015. Both UNAIDS and the US Emergency Plan for AIDS relief collaborated in developing a plan to bring over $2.6 billion in aid to 15 million women around the world. Leaders estimate that this plan will reduce infection of newborn infants to under five percent while providing care for pregnant women with HIV. Other plans in the declaration echoed this 2015 date :
…halve sexual transmission of HIV by 2015, to reduce HIV transmission among people who inject drugs by 50 per cent by 2015, to ensure that by 2015 no child will be born with HIV, to increase universal access to antiretroviral therapy, to get 15 million people onto life-saving treatment by 2015, and to halve tuberculosis deaths in people living with HIV by 50 per cent by 2015.
These goals mirror a rising trend in acknowledgement of the Millennium Development Goal’s 2015 date. A UN advocacy campaign Africa2015 put forth a program to primarily “halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS” by 2015 with the additional hope that this effort would ameliorate other areas of development by pushing forward universal primary education and eradicating extreme poverty.
And like the Red Hot Organization, Africa2015 believes music can play a role in the fight against AIDS. Their 2004 release We Are The Drums united 18 artists from all over the African continent in solidarity with the MDG’s goals and Africa2015′s campaign message. Last year on World AIDS Day – December 1st 2010 – (RED)™ announced their vision of a HIV-free generation by 2015 with a corresponding ad campaign and corporate sponsorship to attempt to make this possible vision to reality.
Unique to this summit is the UN’s address of specific at-risk groups for HIV. According to UNAIDS press statement, current “HIV prevention strategies inadequately focus on populations at higher risk” specifically naming “men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers.” However, noticeably lacking was any reference to the transgender community ,who reportedly suffer greatly from HIV/AIDS. While transgender data is admitedly scarce due to lack of transgender identification on many census forms, AIDS alliance felt confident enough to comment on it in their report of the summit.
Ultimately, the summit stood out for promising a hopeful “beginning of the end” for this epidemic.