The theme of the 2017 High-level Political Forum on sustainable development will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, which is also a central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the lead-up to the 2017 HLPF, weekly blogs by representatives of Member States, UN system, and major groups and other stakeholders will be featured in this series to present various perspectives on this theme. The role of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14, and 17 will also be highlighted, as these goals will be in focus at the 2017 HLPF discussions.
Ending AIDS is everyone’s business
Frauke Joosten Veglio, Advisor, Public-Private Partnerships, UNAIDS
The AIDS epidemic is far from over and continues to affect health and development in many parts of the world. Nearly 37 million people are currently living with HIV, and less than half of them have access to antiretroviral therapy.
Unlike most other health crises, HIV largely affects people in the prime of their life. This is not only a high cost to society, but also a barrier to economic growth. Nine out of ten people living with HIV are adults in their most productive years, and in the most affected countries, HIV takes a direct toll on markets, investments, services and education.
At the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), we advocate that business as usual will not end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. A new course is required. This is why our strategy is centered around a set of targets that aim to draw the critical linkages between health, development, injustice, inequality, poverty, and conflict.
In order to reach those targets, all of which are fully aligned with the SDGs, we work with a wide range of stakeholders, including the business community. Why? Because we believe that the reach, expertise, skills and institutional resources of businesses are key to:
- Ensuring that their workforces and local communities receive HIV prevention, testing, treatment and support through workplace programmes;
- Strengthening health systems and HIV prevention programme management;
- Making sure that AIDS funding reaches and works for the people most in need;
- Reaching the people with the information and tools they need to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy;
- Innovating toward new solutions, ranging from pharmaceutical to diagnostics to service delivery to use of new technologies and financial mechanisms, oftentimes in partnership with the public sector.
Working with forward-looking companies, at UNAIDS we are zooming in on four focus areas for joint action and shared progress: HIV testing; care and treatment; prevention; and human rights. This will result in reductions of new HIV infections, in providing treatment, care, and support to people living with HIV, and in addressing stigma and discrimination. By driving respect for human rights across its value chains, business can accelerate social development, including on issues such as the right to health and gender equality.
A concrete example of our work in this space revolves around ProTESTHIV, a campaign encouraging people to get tested for HIV. As part of the campaign, in 2016 UNAIDS teamed up with Anglo American, a global mining company with more than 90,000 employees and a leader in HIV prevention and treatment, to reach some 6.3 million people through social media. So-called “testing fatigue” had resulted in a significant decrease in the number of employees in southern Africa testing for HIV. Renewed calls for testing and a World AIDS Day campaign reinforced the testing message to its employees, resulting in the company’s HIV testing rates increasing to 86%, well above the percentage in 2015.
Our message is clear: AIDS is not over and ending the epidemic is everyone’s business. We encourage High-Level Political Forum attendees meeting in New York to join us in working towards solutions-oriented approaches to enable a future that brings prosperity, opportunity, and human rights for all.