Ending AIDS will not be achieved by ignoring swathes of the populations most impacted by HIV; we
call on member states to go beyond the commitments made in the Political Declaration and recognise
and support the leadership of young key populations at the national level.
We are alarmed and dissatisfied with the paragraph allowing countries to define the key populations and the paragraph reaffirming national sovereignty. HIV is a global issue and must be treated as such – it will not be ended by member states hiding behind sovereignty clauses to continue human rights abuses against key populations and ignoring our needs and demands. Such clauses will allow member states to actively ignore the needs of the most marginalized key populations and will serve to further widen the inequalities we are trying to end. Member states must be bold and push for unified global action on ending inequalities for all communities and key populations as defined by UNAIDS. We urge member states to make decisions based on scientific evidence and not on culture, to support and fund the leadership of populations that need it most, including young people and young key populations.
While the recognition of restrictive legal and policy frameworks in general is important, we are disappointed to see a lack of strong language around these issues in the Political Declaration. It is not enough to “review and reform” restrictive laws and policies – these must be repealed and abolished. Member states must also commit to listening and implementing the demands of communities when repealing restrictive and discriminatory laws and policies. As young people we want to make clear that we do not believe the language in the 2021 Political Declaration goes far enough; there must be commitments made to fully decriminalise sex work; to fully decriminalise drug use and possession; to fully repeal any laws that criminalise LGBTQI+ people, and to fully repeal any laws and policies that restrict adolescents’ and young people’s access to the full continuum of HIV services, and all health services.
We acknowledge the commitment to engage with youth-led organisations, but also note that this does not go far enough for us. Member states must fund and support youth-led responses to HIV as an instrumental response to ending AIDS. Giving us a seat at the table and asking for our inputs is not enough anymore, particularly when it is still expected that we be grateful for these opportunities, often unpaid, when in reality they are the bare minimum that we should be provided with. Pay us for our time, pay us for our expertise, pay us for our leadership.
The 2021 Political Declaration is a step in the right direction, but only if implemented fully, by all member states. We, as young advocates, leaders, service users, and members of key populations, call on member states to recognise the Political Declaration as the bare minimum that needs to be done. It is not a prescriptive document; we urge to you continue to listen to and fund young people if we are ever to reach the goal of ending AIDS by 2030.
The 2021 Youth Working Group for the High-Level Meeting welcomes the adoption s of a new Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS. We appreciate and commend the leadership of the Co-Facilitators, Australia and Namibia, in this process. We are disappointed by the efforts of a small number of member states to derail the process and are encouraged by the overwhelming support for the Political Declaration. We are also disappointed by the number of member states that have disassociated from paragraphs that as young people, while we find they are not strong enough, are still crucial for a comprehensive AIDS response. We have seen clearly how far there is to go to end AIDS by 2030.Youth Statement on the 2021 Political Declaration.pdf Download