This World AIDS Day, we are honouring the vital and varied contributions that communities around the world make to the HIV response. It includes everything from addressing stigma, discrimination and defending human rights -- to increasing access to life-saving services and ensuring that people are at the centre of policy-making and implementation.
This engagement comes at a time of many obstacles to community engagement such as declining donor funding for the HIV response and challenging legal, social and policy conditions hindering participation -- especially for those communities left furthest behind. They include women and girls, and key populations such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs and prisoners who bear a disproportionately high burden of HIV. And in 2018, key populations and their sexual partners accounted for 54 per cent of new HIV infections. In addition, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law found that between 2012 and 2015, 60 countries introduced laws restricting the activities of civil society -- leading to the disempowerment of key partners in the AIDS response.
But the evidence shows that people-centred, community-led responses can improve service quality and access, increase accountability, and bring interventions to scale. For instance, thanks to the courage of people living with HIV and civil society, the price of antiretroviral medicines has been brought down significantly -- resulting in 24.5 million of the 37.9 million people living with HIV currently on HIV treatment. Communities are also delivering HIV prevention and treatment services, advocating for the removal of punitive laws and policies that hinder the HIV response and providing data through community-led monitoring of health services and systems. Moreover, communities play a prominent role in keeping HIV high on the political agenda, they hold decision-makers to account and ensure that human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Indeed, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises the central role of communities play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering on the pledge to leave no one behind.
It is clear that the expertise and drive of communities is crucial to ending AIDS as a public health threat by the year 2030 -- and we need to amplify the critical role they play. Today, and every other day, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) stands in solidarity with communities and is committed to working closely with them and other partners to achieve the HIV-related SDG targets.
Only together can we end the inequalities and injustices which continue to be barriers to access HIV services.
Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)