Leaving no one behind in the Asia-Pacific HIV response

Jan 29, 2015

Dignitaries of the opening session of the Asia Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS. Photo: Saskia Ketz/ESCAP.

Bangkok, Thailand – Government delegates, leading civil society voices and UN partners gathered in Bangkok this week to review progress in responding to the HIV epidemic in the Asia Pacific region.

The Asia Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS,  currently being held at the UN Conference Centre from 28 to 30 January, has been convened by the UN Economic and Social Commission on Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) with support from UNAIDS, UNDP and other UN agencies.

The meeting is reviewing progress towards commitments made by Member States in the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS and in ESCAP Resolutions 66/10 and 67/9, which call on states to address punitive laws and practices that hinder responses to the AIDS epidemic.

The meeting will produce a new regional framework of cooperation reaching beyond 2015, including measures to enhance the financial sustainability and effectiveness of HIV responses, and to ensure affordable access to life-saving medicine and diagnostics.

Nicholas Rosellini, Director of the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, giving opening remarks. Photo: Ian Mungall/UNDP.

In his opening remarks, Nicholas Rosellini, Director of UNDP's Bangkok Regional Hub, highlighted that the HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific continues to be concentrated among key populations who face the burden of being marginalized not only socially but also through counter-productive legal frameworks.

“Let us remember that the true test of a humane and inclusive society is marked by its commitment to protecting the most vulnerable," he said. "As we move towards the post-2015 development era, let us reaffirm our common commitment to Leaving No One Behind.”

Since 2012, ESCAP, UNAIDS and UNDP have collaborated closely to support government, civil society and UN partners in the Asia-Pacific region to promote protective legal environments, in follow-up to ESCAP resolutions as well as in response to the recommendations of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law.

Supported by UNDP, the Commission released a seminal report in 2012 reaffirming that evidence-based laws and practices are powerful and low-cost instruments for protecting vulnerable populations and promoting public health. These benefits are felt beyond HIV responses, encompassing broader health and development outcomes, and helping countries in eradicating poverty and reducing inequality and exclusion.

  Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director of the HIV, Health and Development Group, UNDP, with fellow panelists including Dr Tia Phalla and the Hon. Michael Kirby during a session on the outcomes of national reviews and multi-sectoral consultations on policy and legal barriers to universal access to HIV services. Photo: Edmund Settle/UNDP.

As a result of the UNDP, ESCAP and UNAIDS partnership, national dialogues and reviews have been conducted in nearly 30 countries, helping to galvanize action on reforming discriminatory laws and practices.

The activities have been undertaken in partnership with UN Country Teams, and coordinated through a regional multi-agency working group co-chaired by UNDP and ESCAP. This process has also benefitted from synergies with two HIV grants supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria – the Multi-Country South Asia HIV Programme and the ISEAN-HIVOS Multi-Country HIV Programme.

The meeting was opened by H. E. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, President of Fiji, together with Dr. Somsak Chunharas, Deputy Minister for Public Health, Thailand, Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, Nicholas Rosellini, Director of the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, and Ms. Nukshinaro Ao, Women's Coordinator of APN Plus.

For further information visit the Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS 2015 website. The event can also be followed on twitter using the hashtag #IGMHIV2015.

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