May 17, 2013

Please find all the latest relevant information on HIV and women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, including links to UN resolutions at ungassforum.org



Recife holds the VI UNGASS-AIDS Forum of Brazil

June 1, 2010

Between May 20th and 21st, Gestos – HIV+, Communication and Gender Issues in partnership with the Support Group for AIDS Prevention (GAPA / SP) and with the support of the National STD and AIDS Programme of Brazil, the Ford Foundation and the Special Secretary of Woman of Pernambuco state, held in, Recife, the VI National UNGASS/AIDS Forum of Brazil. The central theme was the ‘Interface between policies for sexual and reproductive rights and AIDS”.

The event aimed to define collective actions of monitoring the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS-AIDS) with AIDS, gay, trans and women activists and the National STD/AIDS Programme of Brazil, encouraging greater interface between policies for sexual and reproductive health and AIDS policies in Brazil.

The implementation of specific plans for dealing with the epidemic of AIDS and other STDs among gays, men who have sex with men (MSM) and Transvestites, of the Plan to Fight the Feminization of AIDS and other STDs and of the Health and Prevention Program in Schools was also discussed at the meeting.

Forum – Altogether, 61 people from the five regions of the country, attended the forum. Among the exhibitors was Mariângela Simão, head of the National STD/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Programme of the Health Ministry, who presented the successes and challenges to be overcome regarding the UNGASS Goals in 2010. She also presented the process of drafting the 2010 Report and highlighted the participation of civil society in the report.

The representative of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Brazil, Pedro Chequer, also attended the event and made a presentation on Women, HIV/AIDS and the Millennium Goals.The highlight of the presentation was when Chequer spoke about the agenda for the strengthening of actions for women, girls, gender equality and HIV, pointing out the reasons – epidemiological tendency, social vulnerability of women and girls, unmet needs in the reproductive health field and the relation, increasingly evident, between violence against women and HIV / AIDS.

The interface between policies on sexual and reproductive rights and AIDS was the topic addressed by the chairman of Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Trans Population (ABGLT), Beto de Jesus. The issue was highlighted in the Plan to Fight the AIDS Epidemic in Gay, MSM and transvestites majestically by Jesus, who also pointed out the need to work heteronormativity, the fight against homophobia and the recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity as human rights.

The UNGASS and Civil Society was the theme presented by Alessandra Nilo, who highlighted the situation where we should be in 2010 and the challenges for this to be achieved. Besides her, Josineide Meneses, of Gestos, described the situation of the Plans to Fight the Feminization of AIDS in the Northeast of Brazil, which was complemented by José Carlos Veloso, of GAPA-São Paulo, bringing an overview of the three federal plans.

At the end of two days of forum, the participants prepared a political letter with recommendations regarding the MSM and Health and Prevention in Schools Plan, and the Plan to Fight the Feminization of AIDS, which will be socialized in the coming days.

UNGASS / AIDS – In order to monitor the implementation of commitments made by the Brazilian government in 2001 during the Special Session of UN General Assembly on HIV / AIDS – UNGASS – since 2003, a group of Brazilian NGOs, led by Gestos in Pernambuco, and the Support Group for AIDS Prevention of São Paulo – GAPA – SP – has organized UNGASS AIDS forums, where leaders of  AIDS, women and LGBT movements from all over the country gather to evaluate the government response related to the commitments made, identify progresses and gaps and, based on these data, define an agenda of political incidence. In 2007, Gestos extended this initiative to countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Integration of sexual and Reproductive health and Rights and HIV/AIDS highlighted during the V UNGASS Forum South Africa

June 1, 2010

The V UNGASS Forum South Africa, held on February 3rd and 4th, and organized by MOSAIC and Health Trust System, focused on the linkages between and integration of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and HIV/AIDS at various levels. The event had the participation of over 40 women’s organizations.

One of the main results of the forum was the preparation of a report that was submitted to South Africa National Aids Commission (SANAC) and later was annexed to South Africa’s 2010 UNGASS Report, highlighting the importance of integration between SRHR and HIV/AIDS.

The development of a SRHR policy which integrates HIV&AIDS into SRHR programmes, and conversely, SRHR into HIV&AIDS programmes and the review and update of ARV treatment guidelines to cover relevant SRHR issues beyond ARVs are some recommendations highlighted by the report.

The Forum made also recommendations to address the gaps and challenges of integration efforts in South Africa. At structural level, it recommended the development of a unified M&E framework that is informed by human rights; that takes SRHR and quality of care issues into consideration more effectively; and that allows for collection of disaggregated data on SRHR and HIV/AIDS at national, provincial and local levels.

The document will be used by the Women’s Sector in the next two years to guide its advocacy and service-related programs. And will contribute to a much broader view of treatment of HIV positive women in South Africa.

Social organizations discussed the situation of HIV/AIDS in Uruguay during the IV UNGASS Forum

June 1, 2010

More than 50 representatives of social organizations which fight against HIV/AIDS and public legislators gathered last May 21st to reflect and discuss the national situation regarding public policies on HIV/AIDS during the IV UNGASS Forum Uruguay.

A report, coordinated by MYSU and ASEPO,  which covers the progresses weaknesses and  regarding the impact on the sexual and reproductive lives of women, children and adolescents,  was presented to the the Sub-Secretary of Public Health, Jorge Enrique Venegas, and other authorities responsible for public policies related to addressing the situation of the pandemic in the country.

Among the main recommendations, to develop national policies that include coordinated actions in women’s health, SRH, HIV – AIDS – able to overcome vertical approaches – and to ensure health public services on SRH and AIDS. It also was proposed for the National Integrated Health System (SNIS) to advance over previously existing policies at public services and to ensure universal coverage and access, quality and integral care in these areas and the need to develop HIV/AIDS and SRH campaigns of public interest with an inter – institucional approach.

This activity was part of the international project on monitoring the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS-United Nations) on women’s sexual and reproductive health and HIV goals. In Uruguay, the project is coordinated by the National Coordination of MYSU and ASEPO. The International Coordination is done by Gestos, Brazil, funded by the Ford Foundation with the support of UNAIDS.

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.

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.