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world aids day 2017: the right to health

DPI-NGO and UNAIDS commemorated World AIDS Day at the UN in New York on December 1, 2017 with an event concerning The Right to Health. Joan Lurie Goldberg and Judy Mintz, ICJW UN NY Representatives, report.

This year marked the 29th year of commemorating world AIDS Day that began in 1988. The panel discussion started with the reaffirmation of everyone’s human right to quality and accessible health.

Full access includes medicines and services. The third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) states “Good health and well-being” for all. World Aids Day is an opportunity for education and reflection on progress.

The goal is to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

UN AIDS has a new campaign on social media called “My Right to Health”.

Some relevant data:
  • 1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2016
  • When girls stay in school, their risk of acquiring HIV decreases
  • 1 in 3 people living with HIV do not know their HIV status
  • When women are empowered & their rights are fulfilled, HIV prevalence falls
  • Right to health includes access to condoms that are effective, cheap, easy to use
  • As of June 2017, there were 20.9 million people under treatment for HIV

The panelists included experts from UNAIDS, WHO (World Health Organization), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), and the Health and Development Group of UNDP.Highlights:

• AIDS is not over but it can be; to date 35 million people have died
• The cost of meds is only $75 per year per person
• Prevention and treatment requires a collective commitment
• Young women and girls are the most undiagnosed cases; 40% of new cases are among this group
• Must work towards universal health coverage
• There must be non-discrimination in laws and in practice
• Currently the worst epidemic is with women and girls in South Africa and throughout sub-
Saharan Africa
• Challenges are “treatment adherence”, “treatment fatigue”, the cost of complacency
• No one should suffer because they can’t afford treatment, ensure that “no one is left
• The role of infected men