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The Learning Curve - IAS Special Day 1

The Learning Curve - IAS Special Day 1

Hello everyone,

Today was the beginning of the IAS 2021, and our specialist Artur, who is following the conference digitally from Brazil, is going to summarize the many incredible panels and speeches for you.

The tone of the first day is really uplifting, we all suffered and went through a lot last year, and some of us are still trying to get in their feet again, but we can start looking at the light in the end of tunnel and use all the experience we gather to move forward.

In a very suitable start, we look back at the past with the panel: “2021 90-90-90 Targets Update: Introduction.”

Opening Remarks: Addressing Inequalities to Regain Momentum towards 95-95-95 (S. HADER)
COVID-19 Lessons Learned: Transitioning from Fragility to Agility in HIV Responses (M. DOHERTY)
90-90-90: Progress Despite and Setbacks Caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic (E. CASTELLANOS - D. DIALLO - V. HILL-JONES - M. POONKASETWATTANA - T. RUFURWADZO)

At the very begging, Shannon Hader, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, addresses the differences we are experiencing with COVID, the global north is heading to reopening and and the rebirth of a normal life, however many many countries are still facing vaccines shortages, lack of supplies and personal. 

COVID-19, as did HIV many years ago, reveals in a undeniable way the injustices and inequalities of the world. We are given a new opportunity to make a difference, the visibility and experiences of COVID-19 and inequalities has open to a new chance to improve the world, as did HIV many years ago.

This can be perceived in the WHO document: “Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: Ending Inequalities and Getting on Track to End AIDS by 2030”. 

AIDS is still not over, is still a dangerous and deadly pandemic, despite our technological breakthroughs.

Key populations account for 62% of new HIV infections worldwide. 

Now, these populations are even more important, like we mentioned in our last Learning Curve Article (The 2025 targets): “It is time to align laws and policies with science.”

In the second part, Meg Doherty, Director of the Global HIV, Hepatitis and STIs programes at WHO, addresses how the COVID-19 pandemic affected health systems. She shares updated data on the HIV Care Continuum, some are worthy highlighting: children (0-14) fall short of the 90-90-90s goals; Globally the Eastern Mediterranean region is way behind their goals.

The WHO established a Global Clinical Platform for COVID-19 and in there they highlight the importance of considering HIV Positive people a priority group in the Pandemic.

A comparison also shows the difference between the investment on HIV Vaccines versus COVID vaccines.

The third and last part, shows how key-population overcome the challenges imposed by COVID-19.

Erica Castellanos, a transgender woman, displays how trans people affect and are affected by the 90-90-90 goals. She showcases how the pandemic has increased the isolation of trans people, making it ever harder to have access to basic needs, gender affirming care, treatment, and prevention. In many cases these programs have stopped because they are “not a priority” and this says a lot about WHO is not a priority.

D. Diallo talked in a very straightforward manner about the need for health services, programs, policies, and educational institutes to incorporate intersectionality in their core. This will help us to address structural violence like racism, and move to a more suitable accountability, in legal and social standards.

Recommended reading:

The shadow epidemic of gender-based violence. 

“YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO MOBILIZE AGAINST A KILLER EPIDEMIC, HIV, AND YOU HAVE SAVED LIVES ... THIS IS ONE OTHER EPIDEMIC. YOU ARE TESTED, YOU ARE GROUNDED, YOU KNOW HOW TO FIGHT AND HOW TO USE COLLECTIVE POWER OF COMMUNITIES TO PREVENT, TO TEST, AND TO TREAT IN THE MOST RESPECTFUL, HUMAN RIGHTS FOCUSED APPROACH. SO GET OUT THERE AND FIGHT, USE YOUR VOICE TO DEMAND AND TAKE ACTION FOR YOUR COMMUNITIES”. 

WINNIE BYANYIMA, UNAIDS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Tinashe Rufurwadzon, speaks about the struggle of young people to access HIV prevention services. His organization acted in Uganda to dimmish some of this effects: conducting a survey on YPLHIV, Setting up a social aids fund to respond to their specific needs during COVID, developed a youth-led media campaign, provided mental health support and supported contact tracing and vaccination.

Finally, Midnight POONKASETWATTANA, from Bangkok, Thailand, shares the actions of APCOM an organization for MSM health. They created the testbkk.org, an online campaign to increase HIV prevention services. They made available a kit for HIV prevention, with condoms and lube to be ordered online via dating apps.

They were able to achieve a 1074 HIV testing uptake by young MSM, 136k condom disseminated, 5.2M reactions on online platforms, 73k Facebook followers and 5k twitter followers.


We are super excited for the next days!