The Treatment Activist Meeting took place last week, as part of HIV2020 Online.
HIV2020 is described as a key population-led, inter-disciplinary, and sex-positive event which reflects messages of affinity, solidarity, and intersectionality. Sessions have ranged from topics such as increasing funding for community-led responses to HIV to linking HIV with broader health and human rights movements. Most importantly, the event is committed to reaffirming the leading role communities play in the global HIV response.
The Treatment Activist Meeting was designed to ignite change, to build on the success of the global community to date, in increasing access to affordable, optimal HIV treatment for all.
As host, James Cole, STOPAIDS, outlines at the start: “This meeting couldn’t come at a more important time, looking both at the HIV response and challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating.”
“By the end of last year, 25 million people were accessing ARVs. That means that over 12.6 million people are still denied access. As we know as treatment activists, access is key to supporting the global effort to end HIV as a public health threat by 2030.”
“Despite some real, incredible progress, thanks to the tireless activism from campaigners, researchers, governments and stakeholders, unfortunately there are still multi-faceted barriers that remain, preventing the international community from realising treatment for all.”
“For example, the high price of medicines has become a global problem, affecting both people living with HIV and without. New ARVs, for example, in middle-income countries remain prohibitively expensive, as do treatments for co-infections like TB, as well as cancers, and other diseases as well.”
“At the same time we’re still not producing the medicines that people living with and without HIV urgently need. Research into pediatric HIV treatments; new TB drugs; and antibodies, all remain neglected.”
“The high price of medicines is responsible for an additional 100 million people being pushed into poverty every year.”
“And still, the COVID-19 pandemic creates additional challenges for realising HIV treatment targets, and unfortunately we’re seeing the same challenges that the HIV response has faced playing out for COVID-19 too.”
“But, in this difficult climate we shouldn’t lose hope… there’s increasingly a growing recognition that the profit-led pharmaceutical model is failing patients… and incredible activism energy is delivering results across the world, whether that’s fighting the high prices, or fighting the damaging impact of free-trade agreements, we’re fighting back as a community and delivering impact.”
Partners of the Make Medicines Affordable campaign, including from 100% LIFE (Ukraine), ABIA (Brazil), APN+ (Asia Pacific region), AIDS Access Foundation (Thailand), and ITPCru (Russia), presented successful strategies, alongside friends from AIDES, Access to Medicines Ireland, GNP+, Public Citizen, Redlam, STOPAIDS and the Treatment Action Campaign.
Watch below, or access versions in Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Russian.