Top AIDS Leaders to Discuss Agenda at IAC Satellite, Monday, July 23
WASHINGTON, July 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two of the world's leading AIDS advocacy organizations today released a global action agenda aimed at accelerating progress towards the end of the AIDS epidemic. Announced ahead of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., the agenda identifies five major short-term priorities for global AIDS programs together with realistic, annual targets that must be achieved through 2015. The recommended actions, if taken together, could accelerate achievement of a "tipping point" in the global AIDS epidemic, at which – for the first time ever – the number of people gaining access to HIV therapy will outpace the number of people becoming newly infected.
The report, An Action Agenda to End AIDS, was developed by AVAC and amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, and was informed by an analysis of modeling research and consultations with top HIV prevention experts. The Action Agenda, available online at www.EndingAIDS.org, will be the focus of a satellite session at the International AIDS Conference on Monday, July 23 at 6:30 p.m. ET, as well as a press conference on Tuesday, July 24 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
"It's time for talk about ending AIDS to make way for action," said Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC. "When we look back a decade from now, we'll judge ourselves on whether we made the kinds of hard choices outlined in this plan. If we do, we'll soon begin to bring the epidemic under control, creating a world defined by declining HIV infections and a growing capacity to treat people in need. If we don't, we will instead witness millions more preventable HIV infections and needless deaths."
Recent breakthroughs have expanded the range of effective HIV prevention methods and led to new optimism in the AIDS field. After clinical trials demonstrated that antiretroviral treatment (ART) in HIV-positive people can reduce the risk of HIV transmission, and that voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) and other new tools can significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection in HIV-negative people, leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly embraced the possibility of creating an "AIDS-free generation." Despite these encouraging statements, however, global AIDS efforts continue to lack coherent priorities and are threatened by cuts in funding.
"At this moment of great opportunity, we need to be clear about the critical choices ahead," said Chris Collins, Vice President and Director of Public Policy at amfAR. "The world can begin to turn the epidemic around within the next three years – but only if we agree on the major priorities, commit to realistic milestones and hold ourselves accountable. This new agenda outlines the critical decisions we need to make in the coming years to put us on a path to beginning to end the AIDS epidemic."
Year-by-year action steps for all stakeholders
The agenda lays out essential steps that must be taken – year by year through 2015 – by national governments; international organizations, donors and stakeholders; civil society; researchers; and technical agencies. These action steps fall within five overarching priorities:
- Make hard choices by emphasizing, above all other efforts, the rapid scale-up of core interventions that can have the greatest impact. These include HIV testing and treatment, VMMC, prevention of mother-to-child (vertical) transmission, and evidence-based, human rights-based interventions for gay men, sex workers, injection drug users and others at greatest risk.
- Mobilize sufficient, sustainable resources to ensure the rapid scale-up of these core interventions.
- Agree on clear roles and responsibilities and hold one another accountable for results, through agreed timelines, target outcomes, transparent reporting, and real-time assessment of results.
- Build the evidence base to end AIDS, by prioritizing research on the most effective ways to implement new prevention strategies, as well as the continued search for a preventive vaccine and a cure.
- Use every dollar of funding as effectively as possible by lowering the unit costs of core interventions, improving program management, and strategically targeting services.
Tracking critical milestones through 2015
In addition, the report lists a series of key results that must be achieved each year from 2012 through 2015 to fully capitalize on recent research advances. These include cutting the numbers of new HIV infections and deaths, as well as more specific epidemiological and policy-based milestones tied to the global scale-up of critical interventions.
By steadily reducing annual new HIV infections and simultaneously continuing to expand access to HIV treatment, the report authors project that a global "tipping point" can be achieved within two to three years. At that time, roughly 1.75 million people would gain access to HIV therapy yearly, exceeding – for the first time ever – the number of annual HIV infections, which would fall close to 1.5 million. This shift would mark a critical step in controlling the global epidemic.
The targets reflect best-case scenario calculations based on published modeling and epidemiological data, as well as analysis provided by experts in the field. A bibliography and explanation of methodology can be found at www.EndingAids.org.
The feasibility of the report's targets was also reinforced by encouraging new data released by UNAIDS on July 18. The agency reported that more than 8 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving HIV therapy in 2011, a 20 percent increase from the year before. Annual HIV infections declined to 2.5 million in 2011, from 2.7 million the year before.
"The past decade has taught us that when global AIDS efforts have clear priorities and realistic targets, they can have a huge impact," said Nelson Otwoma, National Coordinator of the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK). "We've already accomplished so much, and now the opportunities are greater than ever. If we can agree on a plan and act decisively to make it happen, then countries around the world will have much to celebrate in the years ahead."
AVAC and amfAR will continue to track global progress against the recommendations and targets in the Action Agenda over the coming years. Status updates, analysis and other information will be released periodically and made available on www.EndingAIDs.org.
Top AIDS leaders to discuss Action Agenda at IAC satellite, July 23
On Monday, July 23 at 6:30 pm, a panel of top experts will discuss the new Action Agenda and provide their assessments of what advocates, policymakers, and scientific and government leaders must do to ensure that the rhetoric of the International AIDS Conference becomes the foundation for an urgent, systematic plan to end AIDS.
The event will be moderated by celebrated journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, and will feature
Dr. Antony Fauci (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), Dr. Agnes Binagwaho (Minister of Health, Rwanda), Dr. Deborah Birx (CDC Center for Global Health), Dr. Helen Rees (Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, South Africa) and other prominent global AIDS leaders.
Details of the event are available online at http://www.avac.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/44680.
About amfAR: amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world's leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested more than $340 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide.
About AVAC: Founded in 1995, AVAC is a non-profit organization that uses education, policy analysis, advocacy and a network of global collaborations to accelerate the ethical development and global delivery of AIDS vaccines, male circumcision, microbicides, PrEP and other emerging HIV prevention options as part of a comprehensive response to the pandemic.