On December 1st 2016 is World AIDS Day.The International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) honors our sisters; those who have passed away and those who are still alive who have over the last 3 decades of the HIV epidemic stood up to challenge HIV stigma and paved way for opportunities for a dynamic women’s movement and increased visibility and voices of women and girls living with HIV at decision making platforms all over the world.
ICW is issuing a demand to governments, stakeholders, UN agencies, donors and communities to step up to the challenge and end HIV-related stigma and discrimination in all its forms in institutional and social spheres.
Stigma and discrimination are increasingly recognized as impediments to a successful and effective HIV response;reducing uptake and retention in prevention, treatment and care and increasing abuse and violence experienced by women, adolescents and girls living with HIV and particularly key populations. Yet, programs that address stigma both at community and institutional level remain under prioritized and underfunded.
Stopping Stigma and discrimination is essential to enable and ensure women, adolescents and girls can live full, healthy, productive and happy lives realizing their sexual and reproductive health and rights, including full access to HIV prevention, comprehensive sexual education, high quality treatment and evidence based interventions.
This World AIDS DAY, ICW recognizes the significant milestones realized over the past 40 years to guarantee people living with HIV have access to HIV treatment, care and support , to ensure our families and communities have access to HIV prevention interventions, support women living with HIV in achieving healthy pregnancies and children that are not living with HIV.
ICW recognizes much more needs to be done if we are to achieve the ambitious global 90-90-90 target: of 90 percent of all people living with HIV aware of their HIV status; 90 percent of people with knowledge of their HIV status accessing Antiretroviral treatment (ART) and 90 percent of people accessing ART attaining viral suppression by 2020. Innovative leadership and guidance of new prevention strategies is critical to realizing these targets that contribute immensely to the Global goals set under the Strategic Development Goals.
ICW is stepping up its efforts to end stigma and discrimination and applauds the move by World Health Organization to release guidelines for HIV Self-Test and Voluntary Assisted Partner Notification Services. ICW engaged young women in Kenya in consultations to inform this process and are excited that these guidelines will provide additional options for HIV prevention through increased knowledge of HIV status which will lead through timely access to HIV testing and urge that community consultations take center stage in implementation of these guidelines for acceptability and sustained uptake and use.
There will be no realizing an end to AIDS if we do not step up to the challenges and address HIV stigma as a social determinant of health.
ICW demands political commitment, accountability and global focus towards gathering all levels of the broader community to address HIV related stigma and ensure that there is an empowering environment for women, adolescent and girls to access HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health and rights, positive sexuality, high quality treatment and evidence-based interventions.
ICW demands an elimination to discriminatory and punitive laws, policies and practices that persist all across the world, in which institutional stigma manifests itself, including forced or coerced sterilization and HIV criminalization.
We urge all our family and friends to make a commitment this World AIDS Day to step up and challenge HIV stigma and discrimination wherever it manifests. Together we can make the world a safer place for people living with HIV, in all our vibrant diversity.
NOTHING FOR US WITHOUT US
 UNAIDS 2015; 90-90-90 An ambitious treatment target to help end AIDS