Charting the future course of the global AIDS response

09 Jun 2011

Helen Clark speaks at the 2011 High-Level Meeting on AIDS at UN Headquarters Helen Clark at the 2011 High-Level Meeting on AIDS. Photo: UN Photo/Eskineer Debebe

While the global annual rate of new HIV infections declined by nearly 25 per cent from 2001-2009, the epidemic continues to outpace the response. Two people were newly infected for each individual who started antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in 2009. Read the full report "AIDS at 30: Nations at the Crossroads".

Thirty years into the epidemic, how do we renew HIV prevention to meet the target set for zero new infections by 2015? To get to zero new infections, the world needs a massive focus on prevention.

First, we need to get rid of stigma and discrimination. We need to tackle the health and social inequalities, the myths, and the violence which drive the HIV/AIDS epidemic and stand in the way of effective prevention and treatment.

Second, successful prevention needs strong leadership at all levels to bring HIV out of the shadows, to encourage people to make responsible choices, and to drive interventions which will meet the needs of vulnerable groups. 

Third, legal frameworks need to accommodate effective responses to HIV. Where human rights are not upheld, genuine universal access to services is impossible.  The Global Commission on HIV and the Law convened by UNDP on behalf of the UNAIDS family is compiling recommendations on how to make the law more conducive to fighting the epidemic

Fourth, there is the matter of funding the HIV/AIDS response, and making every dollar count by applying resources where they are most needed and on effective interventions. Recent studies suggesting that the drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS may also reduce its transmission highlight the importance of significantly scaling up treatment programmes, for example.

Leadership is key

If we are prepared to do whatever it takes, we can beat this epidemic.

With strong leadership at every level; with a willingness to tackle inequality, stigma, and discrimination; with a determination to change laws which impede effective responses; and with sufficient and well targeted resources, we can strive for zero infections through renewed attention to prevention strategies. 

This week more than 3000 people including thirty world leaders convened in New York to discuss the future of the AIDS response at the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS. Read UNDP Chief Helen Clark's statement on "HIV prevention - What can be done to get to Zero New Infections?"

Talk to us: What commitments would you like to see from world leaders in order to reach the goal of zero new HIV infections in four years' time?