The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS was held from May 31st-June 2nd at the United Nations in New York, USA. The purpose of this 2006 meeting was to review progress made in implementing the 2001 Declaration of Commitments on HIV/AIDS and applying the findings to renewed international political commitments, including universal access.
While multiple private and public sectors were involved in the meetings, the 2006 UNGASS held unprecedented opportunities for advocacy by civil society. SAATHII played a key role in organizing various dialogues, collaborations, and advocacy forums involving Indian civil society and the Indian government delegation to UNGASS.
Dialogue between Indian Civil Society Leaders and Indian Government Delegation to UNGASS
Preceding the high-level meetings, SAATHII hosted a dinner and dialogue for Indian civil society, later joined by the Indian government delegation to UNGASS. The event presented an opportunity for Indian civil society leaders to identify additions and omissions of key principles in the draft of the 2006 Declaration of Commitments. Key principles discussed, in relation to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India, included treatment targets and timelines, funding, health infrastructure, women’s rights, Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) needs, PLWHA rights, Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), civil society involvement in monitoring and evaluation, harm reduction, GIPA, vulnerable groups, and sexual and reproductive health. Following these discussions, SAATHII facilitated a dialogue between civil society leaders and the Indian government officials, sharing concerns about ensuring the inclusion of these key principles in the 2006 Declaration of Commitments. The meeting was a unique opportunity for Indian civil society and the Indian government to listen to one another, share ideas, and discuss strategies.
March for Universal Access to HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment
SAATHII, International HIV/AIDS Alliance, and ActionAid International co-sponsored the Asia Pacific Coalition in the Global Civil Society March for Universal Access to HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment. The purpose of the Asia Pacific Coalition was to raise awareness of the rising HIV-epidemic in the Asia Pacific Region, demand accountability for unmet UNGASS targets, protect the human rights of marginalized communities, and demonstrate our solidarity in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. SAATHII recruited a strong contingent of volunteers, holding a five-foot long banner with the SAATHII logo and signs with relevant slogans.
Panel Discussion with Members of the Indian Delegation to UNGASS
SAATHII organized a forum on “Making Universal Access a Reality in India,” held at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine. The event was co-sponsored by International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ActionAid International, and the Institute for Urban and Global Health at NYU School of Medicine. The key topics for the panel discussion included; “Where have we come since UNGASS 2001? A National Perspective, Unmet targets and strategies for achieving universal access.”
The Panel Discussion provided a rare and exceptional opportunity for the general public to ask questions of the Indian government and civil society leaders on a diverse range of topics in relation to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India. Afterwards, the Indian government delegation and civil society leadership shared their appreciation of the genuine dialogue on many controversial and significant issues in India’s fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The audience shared their appreciation for the opportunity to speak with key players working on HIV in India and the substantial information provided, which helped many to understand the current state of the epidemic, as well as efforts being taken by the Indian government to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in India.