UNODC at the virtual High-Level Meeting on AIDS 2021 in New York

7-11 June 2021 - New York - The High-Level Meeting on AIDS took place in New York between 7-11 June 2021. A set of new and ambitious targets in the political declaration on HIV and AIDS was adopted by the United Nations Member States in the context of this meeting. If the international community reaches these targets, 3.6 million new HIV-infections and 1.7 million AIDS-related deaths will be prevented by 2030. The Member States adopted a political declaration calling to provide 95% of all people at risk of acquiring HIV with access to people-centred and effective HIV combination prevention opportunities and to ensure that 95% of people living with HIV know their status, 95% of people who know their status to be on HIV treatment, and 95% of people on HIV treatment to have viral suppression.

The UNODC HIV/AIDS Section co-organized and co-sponsored several virtual side events to inform about the latest developments regarding the HIV response among people who use drugs and people in prisons, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of harm reduction services. UNODC was also a member of the development team of the HLM Thematic Panel 2 “Putting people and communities at the center of the response to AIDS”, the first high-level global discussion on the opportunities and challenges for moving towards the Global AIDS targets with the focus on communities of people living with and affected by HIV.

7 June: The side event “Addressing the needs of women who use drugs”, co-organized by UNODC together with IAS - International AIDS Society, International Network of People Who use Drugs (INPUD), World Health Organization (WHO) and the joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), urged for the elimination of barriers frequently faced by women who use drugs and women in prisons in accessing services related to HIV, hepatitis and prevention of mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT). The side event was opened by Fariba Soltani, Chief of UNODC HIV/AIDS Section and Global HIV Coordinator. The panel included Prof. Lisa Maher from the Kirby Institute at the University of New 

South Wales in Australia; Judy Chang from INPUD; Ruth Birgin from Women and Harm Reduction International Network; Monica Ciupagea, MD, Expert on Drug Use and HIV at UNODC HIV/AIDS Section; and Morkor Newman Owiredu, MD, Expert on PMTCT at WHO. 

UNODC Regional Programme Office for Eastern Europe (RPOEE), jointly with UNAIDS and the Charitable Fund "Humanitarian Action", organized a side event entitled “HIV-related services for people who use New Psychoactive Substances (NPS): Needs and barriers” for national partners in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The event was moderated by Aleksey Lakhov from the Charitable Fund "Humanitarian Action" and was opened by Zhannat Kosmukhamedova, head of UNODC RPOEE. The panel included Oleksandra Yatsura and Liliya Tarasyuk from the Association of Sociologists of Ukraine, Elena Fesenko from the Monitoring Centre of Mental Health, and Oleg Yusoppov from the Public Foundation of the Monitoring Centre of Alcohol and Drugs.

8 June:  The side event on “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Delivery of HIV Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support Among People Who Use Drugs and People in Prisons” was organized by UNODC in partnership with IAS, WHO, INPUD, UNDP, and UNAIDS and highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support among people who use drugs. The session was opened by Fariba Soltani, Chief of UNODC HIV/AIDS Section and Global HIV Coordinator, and moderated by Annette Verster, Technical Lead - Key Populations at the WHO Global HIV, Hepatitis and STIs Programme as well as Monica Ciupagea, MD, Expert on Drug Use and HIV at UNODC HIV/AIDS Section. Presentations were given by Prof. Jason Grebely from the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales in Australia, Svitlana Moroz from the Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS, Mat Southwell from the Stimulants Expert Working Group, Prof. Joseph Amon from the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University, and Prof. Adeeba Kamarulzaman from the Faculty of Medicine of University Malaya and President of IAS. 

The virtual side event “The Right to Rights: How do we get there for people who use drugs” was organized by INPUD in partnership with UNODC, IAS, WHO, UNDP, OHCHR, and UNAIDS with the purpose of raising awareness about the human rights barriers faced by people who use drugs and the effects of punishment and intervention on  their lives. Opening remarks were given by Judy Chang, Executive Director of INPUD, and the session was moderated by Jake Agliata, Policy and Communications Officer at INPUD. The panel consisted of Fariba Soltani, Chief of UNODC HIV/AIDS Section and Global HIV Coordinator; Annie Madden, PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales; Prof. Michel

Kazatchkine, Special Advisor to the Joint United Nations Program on AIDS (UNAIDS) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and Senior Fellow at the Global Health Center of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva; Richard Elliott, Executive Director of the HIV Legal Network; Ludo Bok, Manager SDGs and UNAIDS at the UNDP HIV, Health and Development Group; Morgana Danielė from the UNITE Parliamentarian Network and Member of Parliament in Lithuania; Ernesto Cortés from the Latin American Network of People who Use Drugs; and Zaved Mahmood, Human Rights and Drug Policy Advisor at OHCHR. 

9 June: UNODC joined UNAIDS in organizing the side event “From promises to action: scaling up efforts against human rights barriers including HIV-related stigma and discrimination”. The discussion outlined that without addressing human rights barriers, the goal to end AIDS by 2030 will not be achieved. The panel included representatives of the Governments of Angola, Costa Rica and the Gambia; Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS Executive Director; Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund; Edwin Cameron, Inspecting Judge of Prisons from South Africa; Souhaila Ben Said, President of the Association Tunisienne de Prévention Positive; Harry Prabowo, GNP+ Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator; and Loyce Pace, the U.S. Director for Global Affairs for the Department of Health and Human Services.

10 June: UNODC HIV/AIDS Section organized a side event on “HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care among People who Use Drugs and People in Prison in Africa” in collaboration with the African Union Commission and UNAIDS. The purpose of this side event was to advocate for scaling up our joint efforts to address HIV among people who use drugs and people in prisons in Africa. Opening remarks were delivered by Candice Welsch, Deputy Director of the Division for Operations, UNODC; Vinay Saldanha, Special Adviser to the Executive Director, UNAIDS; and Cisse Mariama Mohamed, Director, Social Development, Culture and Sports, African Union Commission. Distinguished speakers from the 

Republic of Kenya, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and South Africa then shared their country experiences in HIV prevention, treatment and care among people who use drugs and people in prison in Africa. These presentations were complemented by perspectives from regional civil society organizations, namely the Eastern Africa Harm Reduction Network (EAHRN) and the Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA).

11 June: UNODC Regional Programme Office in Eastern Europe (RPOEE) conducted a side event for national partners in Eastern Europe and Central Asia entitled “Partners in Solution: Multi-sectoral partnership between Law Enforcement agencies, justice sector and CSOs/NGOs in HIV response”, which aimed to demonstrate best practices and meaningful collaboration between LE and CSOs in the HIV response in the region. The event was moderated by Andrey Saladovnikov, UNODC consultant, with Zhannat Kosmukhamedova, Head of UNODC RPOEE, delivering opening remarks. Case studies were introduced by Roman Drozd from the CSO “Svet Nadejdi” in Ukraine; Iryna Statkevych from the CSO “Positive movement” in Belarus; Valentina Mankiyeva from the Forum of People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) Kazakhstan; Alexei Grosu from the Right Bank police, deputy chief of public security inspectorate, General Police Inspectorate in Moldova; and Janna Vilhovaya from the CSO Alianz Zdorovya, Left Bank Moldova.