Africa: UNDP Administrator Sees Stronger Role for Lawmakers in Eradicating AIDS

United Nations Development Program [New York]

Melbourne, Australia — Tackling HIV requires courageous and committed policy-makers and law-makers said the UN’s development chief at the 20th International AIDS Conference.

“Parliamentarians have an indispensable role to play in building the coalitions for action to change bad laws which entrench exclusion, and to ensure that services are available to risk groups often shunned by society,” said United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark. “You can also advocate for gender equality, women’s empowerment, and action against sexual and gender-based violence to lower the disproportionate risk of HIV infection faced by women and girls.”

The bi-annual international AIDS conference brings together HIV experts, high-level policy makers, persons living with HIV, and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. Helen Clark made her remarks while addressing Parliamentarians at the event highlighting the role they can play in addressing AIDS.

UNDP is the world’s largest implementer of parliamentary development programming, and is currently doing this work in 68 countries.

“UNDP aims to build the capacity of parliamentarians to work on crucial issues – of which HIV is clearly one,” she said. “HIV/AIDS can trap families, communities, and nations in poverty – the world won’t eradicate poverty without tackling this epidemic decisively.”

“Fighting the spread of HIV often means politicians and officials being prepared to go well beyond their personal comfort zones to ensure access to services for those on the margins of society,” she continued. “In doing this, it helps to have a conducive legal and policy environment. Wherever there are bad laws, effective responses to the HIV epidemic are much more difficult to implement.”

The UNDP-led Global Commission on HIV and the Law found that changes in the law and policy, combined with other interventions, could lower new adult HIV infections globally to an estimated 1.2 million by 2031. This compares to an estimated 2.1 million new infections under business as usual. The accelerated effort demands stronger adherence to human rights principles and actions to promote access to health for all, particularly among key populations, such as men-who-have-sex-with-men, sex workers, transgender people and people who use drugs.

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