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UN Urges Community Leadership as Key to Achieving a World Without AIDS

On the 2023 World AIDS Day, the United Nations emphasizes that ending AIDS is feasible if communities take charge, highlighting the need for support, innovation, and accountability.

As the globe observes the 2023 World AIDS Day, the United Nations (UN) and its affiliated agencies underscore the potential of achieving a world without AIDS by empowering communities to lead the way. The emphasis is on connecting people with person-centric public health services, fostering trust, encouraging innovation, monitoring policy implementation, and ensuring accountability.

World AIDS Day, observed every December 1, serves as a global platform for expressing solidarity with individuals living with or affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and commemorating those who succumbed to AIDS-related complications.

The UN asserts that the journey to end AIDS lies in communities taking the lead, positioning organizations representing those living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV at the forefront of progress in the HIV response. However, these community-driven efforts face challenges such as funding shortages, regulatory obstacles, capacity constraints, and crackdowns on civil society and the human rights of marginalized groups, hindering the advancement of HIV prevention and treatment services.

The UN advocates for the removal of these obstacles, asserting that unleashing the potential of community-led organizations will significantly propel the global HIV response towards the ultimate goal of eradicating AIDS.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, underscores the pivotal role of communities in terminating the global AIDS epidemic. In a video message, he acknowledges the decades of activism and advocacy from affected communities, leading to the prevention of millions of infections and the provision of antiretroviral therapy to millions of people.

Dr. Ghebreyesus emphasizes the critical role of community health care workers and calls for global solidarity and support to empower communities in their fight against HIV, emphasizing the need for funding and resources.

UNAIDS stresses the essential incorporation of communities’ leadership roles in all HIV plans and programs, emphasizing the principle of “Nothing about us without us.” Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, asserts that the end of AIDS is within reach, advocating for reliable funding and support for communities to lead the scale-up required for success.

Byanyima emphasizes that not ending AIDS is more costly than achieving its elimination. UNAIDS calls for the removal of barriers to community leadership, the creation of an enabling regulatory environment, and the elimination of laws that harm marginalized communities.

On World AIDS Day, communities worldwide are shaping events tailored to their specific needs, with UNAIDS using social media to share photos and videos that reflect the diversity of activities and convey communities’ calls to action.

The International AIDS Society (IAS) aligns with the UN’s call, urging all stakeholders to prioritize communities in the global fight against AIDS. Sharon Lewin, President of IAS, stresses the importance of recognizing impacted communities as the most valid source of information for an effective HIV response.

Lewin advocates for championing and expanding community-first solutions and approaches. The IAS, reflecting on progress and losses, emphasizes the need for global collaboration to realize a world where HIV no longer poses a threat to public health and individual well-being. IAS members are actively leading and catalyzing change in communities worldwide to achieve this vision.

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