Communities are combatting the Alternative Three Zeroes: Zero Funding, Zero Political Will, and Zero Legal Reform

Ishdeep Kohli - CNS
In line with the UNAIDS campaign to achieve the 'Three Zeroes' -- Zero new infections, Zero new deaths and Zero discrimination, the Community Programme Committee for ICAAP11 came up with the 'Community Three Zeroes' -- Zero funding, Zero political will and Zero legal reform.

The Community Forum at ICAAP11 was attended by over a thousand civil society representatives from Asia and the Pacific, along with invited experts and other stakeholders. The forum was a gathering of community groups and networks of key affected populations, aimed at fostering solidarity and convergence amidst diverse backgrounds, experiences, and contexts.

This year, the aim was to change the structure and content of the Community Forum programme by enabling more interaction, and inter-community dialogue and discussions. The forum provided a platform for diverse groups and communities to strategize and develop joint actions, common advocacy messages and a joint Community statement.

The Community group breakout sessions represented: People who inject drugs; Migrant workers; Sex workers; Men who have sex with men; Transgenders; People living with HIV; Young people; Women and girls. The joint session triggered presentations on each of the Three Zeroes: Zero funding, Zero political will, Zero legal reform. Thematic groups brought out three core messages or recommendations per Zero.

Tracey Tully Advocacy and Communications Officer, Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers, commenting on Zero political will stressed, “UNAIDS must be committed to stand by their recommendations made by UNDP, UNFPA, and UNAIDS where they have stated for full de-criminalization of sex-work”.

Daisy David, Advocacy Associate with World Vision stated for the women group, ‘to prioritize ‘women’ in all post 2015 Development Agenda and integration of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights with HIV services’. She remarked, “It is all zero without women”. Abhinav Singh, Director Programmes, The Dove Foundation, emphasized from the youth community, “Youth do want meaningful engagement, not tokenistic.  Young people must be given space, resources, and skills and be part of the change, lead the change”.

“We must re-boot our efforts for MSM testing, diagnosis, prevention and treatment across the region”, said AFAO Executive Director Rob Lake, speaking at the MSM breakout session. David Traynor, AFAO International Programme Manager, adviser and supporter of APCASO, triggering the presentation on Zero funding at the joint session, highlighted the constrained global economic environment, “External investment in HIV/AIDS is flat lining, thus internal funding must go up, governments need to increase their resources towards community led programmes”. This will only happen with the right political will and legal environment. So in effect the community three zeroes are inter-connected.

“We can stop AIDS, there is enough scientific evidence, why don’t we”? Jonas Bagas, a member of the Philippines National AIDS Council presented the gaps in realities and lack of political will. Tripti Tandon of Lawyers Collective asked for a paradigm shift in health, HIV and Human Rights policy reform.

7Sisters coordinated the Community Forum related events along with Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV (APN+), Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW), Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility in Asia (CARAM-Asia), Asian Network of People Using Drugs (ANPUD), Youth Lead and Asia-Pacific Transgender Network (APTN), and its strategic partner, the Asia-Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM). The ICAAP11 Community Forum was made possible with the support of UNAIDS, USAID and the Local Organizing Committee

Ishdeep Kohli, Citizen News Service - CNS
November 2013

Note: This article was first published in 11th ICAAP INSIGHT, the official daily conference newspaper of 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (11th ICAAP) in Bangkok, Thailand. This newspaper was managed by Inis Communication and CNS.