July 23, 2014
Parliamentarians from around the world attending the 20th International AIDS Conference met in Melbourne at the State Parliament of Victoria on 21 July to discuss the latest developments and challenges in the HIV response, and to share ideas and best parliamentary experiences in responding to the HIV epidemic.
The meeting stressed the importance of political leaders and called on their renewed commitment to help tackle the main barriers that hinder an effective response to HIV, including stigma, discrimination, restrictive intellectual property norms and other legal barriers that affect people living with HIV and members of key populations. Parliamentarians are critical to advancing the vision of ending AIDS by 2030 through their leadership, advocacy role and ability to authorize and oversee AIDS spending.
Members of parliament reviewed progress made in improving legal environments in their own countries and acknowledged the importance of human rights to the HIV response. They also discussed examples of parliamentary leadership and collaborations between countries and regions to ensure that all people have access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services.
Organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, UNAIDS and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the meeting was attended by the Speaker of the Parliament of Australia, Bronwyn Bishop, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Luiz Loures, who gave keynotes addresses, and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, who made closing remarks.
“UNDP is here to support your efforts, to help turn the tide on bad laws in order to have a better impact in the AIDS response.”
“It is very difficult to deal with a disease associated with sin.”
“We need to build an alliance with other members of parliament of other countries. We also need to have capacity-building programmes in place as parliamentarians change every five years.”
“Ending AIDS will not happen without protective laws.”
“Now we need parliamentarians to act and speak out and adopt protective laws to ensure that we leave no one behind.”