South Africa accomplishes planned goals

January 15, 2010

The year of 2009 can be considered a key-year to South Africa. The III South Africa UNGASS-AIDS SSR Forum was held in Cape Town, last June and almost all the activities drawn in the advocacy plan were accomplished.  The meeting took place in the house of MOSAIC (a NGO) and had two days of intense discussions about health and sexual and reproductive rights, with the participation of 20 Health, Women, HIV/AIDS and GLB movement organizations.

Promoting the UNGASS-AIDS Declaration of Committment and the SRHR priorities within the national AIDS policies and strategies was done in many opportunities such as at the Reproductive Rights Alliance workshop, Men Engage Conference, Youth conference in Cape Town and Women’s Sector Prevention Summit. During the Summit many crucial issues were discussed such as the lack of access to the female condom, the need for more efficient prevention programmes for girls, attention to prevention activities for pregnant women who have tested negative, to get improved SRH and family planning services for women affected by AIDS, etc. These were a very strategic moment for civil society point out and highlight their main needs and concerns.

South Africa was also successful in communicating with society in general. Advocacy information addressing civil society were produced as part of the advocacy activities, as well as a press statement containing ten priority points.

After a year of hard work though the doubt whether the civil society report was incorporated by UNAIDS remains. The report was submitted after the country due date and even though UNAIDS supported its content and process, the document couldn’t be accepted as a shadow report by South Africa National AIDS Commission.

Last year the UNGASS AIDS Forum was successful when talking to the government Department of Health about the possibility of having civil society included as part of the delegation which will participate in the AIDS High Level Meeting at UN, expected to be held in 2011. That was a very difficult process in 2008 and the SC is looking forward to have it improved for the next UNGASS Review meeting.

In 2010 lobbying and strengthening Women’s Sectors will keep in place.


Viena holds the XVIII International AIDS Conference in 2010

January 15, 2010

From 18 to 23 July 2010, the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010), an event organized by the International AIDS Society (IAS), will be held in Austria. Over 25.000 people working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers and people living with HIV are expected.

The event will be an opportunity to highlight the importance of continued HIV investments to broader health and development goals and the critical connection between human rights and HIV. And it is also a great opportunity for us to present the work related UNGASS-AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of women.

YOUR PARTICIPATION WILL BE KEY

Attention with the following dates.

• Standard fee deadline is 24 February

• Apply for a scholarship – (December 8, 2009 – February 10, 2010)

• Submit an abstract (November 1, 2009 – February 10, 2010) or request abstract assistance –  (until February 3, 2010)

•  Submit skills building workshop proposals, sessions for the Global Village and Youth Programmes (December 1, 2009 – February 10, 2010)

•  Register to volunteer – April 1, 2010

•  Apply for exhibition space – (December 1, 2009 – May 31, 2010)

• Host a satellite meeting – (December 1, 2009 – March 31, 2010)

• Sign-up for monthly e-mail updates at http://www.aids2010.org using the “Add me to the mailing list” button.

For further information about the conference and how to participate click http://www.aids2010.org/


Brazil showed great progress on the debate about women’s SRH&R, AIDS and violence

January 15, 2010

The year of 2009 was the time for two states (Paraíba and Acre) which had never organized a Forum before to hold their I UNGASS-AIDS SSR Foruns. The II Forum of the North Region and the IV of Maranhão state were also held and all of them ended with important outcomes regarding the monitoring of AIDS public policies, including a monitoring plan and goals set up for 2009-2010.

The participation of civil society in the UNGASS working group, coordinated by the STD, AIDS and Viral Hepatitis National Program and created for formalize the SC participation within the process of creating the National UNGASS report, was more productive in 2009. Thirty seven organizations from different parts of the country contributed with information to the Part B of the Joint National Policies Indicator that were later consolidated and incorporated in the Country Report – last time only 4 replied the questionnaire sent by the government.

An outstanding initiative of civil society was a capacity building workshop for women of all northeastern states about sexual and reproductive rights, AIDS and violence, coordinated by Gestos, in September. Seropositive women from women rights groups and networks[1], including the Youngsters living with HIV and AIDS Network held intensive discussions for four days which, according to them, have widely contributed to their political strengthening to act on instances of social control. The objective was to promote sexual and reproductive rights as a starting point of public policies on fighting the feminization of AIDS and to set an advocacy agenda for 2010.
“Since I got divorced and found out I was HIV positive I see I can take care of me and my life. I assume that and I don’t need to hide myself, when I assume I am a woman who lives with HIV/AIDS (…) But today I understand that in order to be a leader it is not necessary to be in official space, I can do my work and change people’s conditions”, said one of the workshop’s participants.

A second workshop, this time for the policy makers of health and women sectors, was held two months later. Representatives of all nine states were together for two days to discuss prevention and women’s assistance policy and also the lack of policies able to relate violence and AIDS. They also acknowledged the seropositve women’s activity plan and most important of all they have committed to support it.

Very important this past year was also the invitation by UNAIDS to Gestos to take part in the Latin America Workshop on UNGASS-AIDS 2010, which took place in Chile, last March . The objectives were to consolidate the process of preparation of the country reports for UNGASS 2010, to analyze the Declaration of Commitment indicators, signed by the countries in 2001, and to know the computerized tools for releasing the 2010 national reports.

During the workshop Gestos had the opportunity to present the experience of the project Monitoring of UNGASS-AIDS goals on Sexual and Reproductive Health. According to the activist Jair Brandão, who was representing the institution at the event, “the participation of Gestos was very nice, because the process of monitoring the UNGASS-AIDS goals by the civil society is still one of the best catalyzers to maintain and progress the monitoring and the evaluation at a national level.” Brazil has an amazing experience on that.


[1] Women living with HIV from RNP+ (National Network of PLWA), MNCP (National Movement of Positive Women Citizens),


Ukraine use campaigns as a tool to mobilize civil society

January 15, 2010

The year of 2009 was busy for the Ukrainian civil society concerning the actions to the monitoring of UNGASS-AIDS goals on sexual and reproductive health. Four main activities were held throughout the year which highly contributed to an important participation of the civil society on AIDS issues: the UNGASS Forum and three advocacy campaigns. 

The third UNGASS Forum, conducted by the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, was held on July 17th. During the event the project “Monitoring UNGASS-AIDS goals on Sexual and Reproductive Health” was discussed, the results of the previous research presented and an agreement about the inclusion of 2009 research results into the National UNGASS Report to be due on March, 31st, 2010 was made.

The campaigns were part of the activities planned by the civil society at their advocacy plan. “Stop the Count” was an action, held in May, to attract attention to the problem of HIV/AIDS and its scale, to increase sympathy of each citizen, society, government to overcoming of HIV/AIDS epidemic and to decrease discrimination towards HIV-positive people and women in particular. As part of this action Europe’s first counter showing the number of HIV-positive people in Ukraine was set up.

On September the campaign “Corruption in the fashion” was released. The aim of the action was to prevent unclear tenders on procurement, support PLWH, in access to treatment, provision of treatment without interruption. That has been a big issue in Ukraine for many years. In 2009, the situation repeated itself and it became critical. One third of the funds from the state budget provided for the procurement of ARV medicines were used inefficiently. The Ministry of Health, compared to the Network of PLWH, procures some medicines for a price four times higher. Corruption continues, though the multisector MoH working group on improving government procurement system has been established and works formally since 2008.

On the National Day for Fighting HIV/AIDS (December 1st) was the time for the “SOS! Safe the country from AIDS”, a campaign designed to draw the politicians’ attention – candidates for Presidential elections – to the problems of state regulations in HIV/AIDS (lack of treatment provided to HIV-positive people; risk of interruption of treatment because of state budget deficit; etc). Politicians were invited to come and join together in making a symbol (life buoy) and also to announce their particular plans on Fighting HIV/AIDS in the country. The action took place in Kiev, 22 oblast centers and in 22 other cities of Ukraine.


Indonesia: a year of great achievements

January 15, 2010

It seems this past year was a new start for the Indonesian civil society’s participation in the social control of public policies of AIDS, having the UNGASS-AIDS Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Health as a strong political tool. The first Forum was held in 2007, the second  in 2008 and, after almost three years later the UNGASS-AIDS Forum results are quite impressive.

Organized by JOHTI, the III Ungass AIDS Forum in 2009 had the participation of eleven civil society organizations from different parts of the country. According to the Forum’s coordinator, Aditya Wardhana, the partnership between the organizations and with the government became much stronger. “The National Aids Commission admitted the Forum as a new entity and they treat us as equal partners. We were involved in the Monitoring and Evaluation Program and also in other policy instances, as the National Strategic Plan on AIDS (NSP) for 2010-2014, Harm Reduction Regulation, Health Law Advocacy and Drugs Law Advocacy.” The Indonesia UNGASS Forum have actually joined the core writer team of the NSP and was also able, in partnership with the Advocacy Network for Health Law, to eliminate a law which criminalized the HIV transmission.

As another important outcome of this approximation, after the III Forum there was another meeting, promoted by the Indonesia UNGASS Forum, with the NAC secretary. “The secretary agreed that there is a need to develop a civil society report together with the government report in order to get a complete picture of AIDS response in Indonesia”, said Wardhana. In the end NAC also agreed that Indonesia UNGASS Forum will lead the National Composite Policy Index (NCPI) Part B of the Country Report, what is already happening now.

Great achievement among last year’s activity was also the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, held in Bali, last August. Under the theme “Empowering people, strengthening networks”, the event was an opportunity for UNAGSS Forum and JOTHI to do some campaign to promote the UNGASS-AIDS and build partnership in Asia and the Pacific regarding its monitoring process.

Even though 2009 was a great year for the country, there are still some challenges to be overcome. Wardhana admits Indonesia needs a stronger civil society organization platform in order to actually become a government’s partner with equal conditions. If it happens, the Indonesia UNGASS Forum would certainly take a key position on the Civil Society AIDS