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38th UNAIDS PCB Meeting, Geneva

NGO Statement: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

This statement is made on behalf of a loosely formed coalition of the STOP AIDS Alliance, the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development (ICAD), the South African AIDS Trust, the Canadian Positive People Network, and the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+).

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We thank the NGO delegation and strongly applaud the articulate, deeply grounding, and affecting NGO report. We call upon UNAIDS and Member States to ensure strong political support for integrated sexual and reproductive health and rights in the HIV response with concrete targets, indicators and dedicated funding at the community-level to protect and propel the gains we have made thus far.

This report raises a number of critical opportunities where we together are able to make significant advances in ending HIV as a public health threat by 2030 namely, through integrated, rights-based approaches to protect and promote the sexual and reproductive health and rights of people most affected by HIV. Through this statement, we highlight three key areas where we call upon UNAIDS for its strong voice and leadership:

First, the importance and centrality of intersectionality. The reality is, that people in all their diversity, rarely, if ever experience their identity in one linear, singular way. As an example, understanding the health concerns of key populations and women and girls must reach beyond the lens of gender to also consider the full range of dynamic social and cultural categories such as class, sexual orientation, race, age, etc. and how these impact on the range of health concerns, needs and priorities of women and transgender women. Intersectionality also contextualizes the multiple forms and layers of stigma and discrimination that remain a leading driver of the HIV epidemic and inhibit access to critical services, including rights-based sexual and reproductive health services. Adopting a rights-based, person-centred approach to health-service delivery meets the sexual and reproductive health needs of all people in all their diversity.

Similarly, ensuring that women and girls most affected by HIV are well-informed and empowered to make positive choices about their sexuality, their health and well-being through greater rights-based health literacy across the life-course, including comprehensive sexuality education, means that in fact – we are protecting children born free from HIV from acquiring HIV later in their life.

Secondly, accelerate efforts to ensure that inclusive societies and enabling environments flourish and fully enable personal and individual identities and expression as being key to sexual rights — free from violence. This includes changing restrictive policies and other structural barriers that prohibit people, especially young people from accessing comprehensive SRHR and HIV information and services.

Third and finally, there is now wide recognition that community responses must play an increasing role in addressing the epidemic, including in providing integrated SRHR service delivery, in the years ahead. In particular, it is critical that community responses are led by and involve those most affected by the epidemic and those most inadequately served by health systems. Community mobilization and community system strengthening are essential pillars for strategic investment in healthy societies. As a social enabler, it must be adequately resourced and funded.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights is an essential human right, and we ask all Member States to ensure such rights are protected as we work towards ending HIV by 2030.

Thank You.