The Joint United Nations Programme on Human Immunodeficiency Virus / Acquired Immuno deficiency Syndrome
The Joint United Nations Programme on Human Immunodeficiency Virus / Acquired Immuno deficiency Syndrome (UNAIDS) was established by UN ECOSOC Resolution 1994/24 of July 26 1994.
The purpose of the Joint Program is to assist in strengthening and to support the large-scale responses to the HIV / AIDS epidemic, to stimulate the unification of efforts of various sectors and partners from government agencies and civil society in the fight against the epidemic, and to maintain the confidence of the world's population in the existence of a real threat posed by HIV.
- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF);
- The UN World Food Program (WFP);
- The United Nations Development Program (UNDP);
- The United Nations Population Fund;
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC);
- The International Labor Organization (ILO);
- Specialized Agency of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO);
- The World Health Organization (WHO);
- The World Bank;
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The Secretariat of the Joint United Nations Program is located in Geneva.
H.E. Ms. Winnie Byanyima of Uganda is the Executive Director of UNAIDS since August 2019.
The UNAIDS provides expert assistance and coordinates HIV testing and treatment efforts, organizes work to develop solutions to reduce prices and ensure procurement of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. It also aims to mobilize resources to ensure sustainable access for people living with HIV (PLHIV) and vulnerable groups of the population to the prevention, treatment and care services with a focus on harm reduction and substitution therapy.
At the program level, the UNAIDS, as part of SDG No. 3, is committed to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
In accordance with the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2016, member states committed themselves in striving to achieve the following goals by 2020:
- reduction of the global number of persons primarily infected with HIV to less than 500 thousand cases per year;
- decrease in the number of deaths from AIDS-related causes annually to less than 500 thousand people a year;
- elimination of discrimination and stigmatization in society against people living with HIV / AIDS.
At international platforms, the UNAIDS is actively promotes the “Strategy 90-90-90” for HIV treatment, according to which, by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; by 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; by 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. However, following to the latest UNAIDS data, these goals are hardly to be achieved. The organization has begun to develop a new Strategy for action for the period after 2021, which will reflect modern challenges, as well as will adjust the targets or the timing of their achievement.
The governing body of the Joint Program is the UNAIDS Program Coordinating Council (the Council).
The Council consists of 22 states with the right to vote, representatives of international organizations co-founders of the Joint Program, and a number of specialized NGOs.
Cooperation of the Republic of Belarus with UNAIDS
Since 1996, the UNAIDS country office has been operating in Belarus.
The Republic of Belarus was first elected to the Council in 2016 for a three-year period starting from January 1, 2017. In May 2019, by decision of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), our country was re-elected to the Program Coordination Council for the next three-year period (2020-2022).
In 2019, Belarus became a member of the Bureau of the Council and performed a duty as a rapporteur along with China (chair) and the United States (vice chair).
International cooperation and international technical assistance, primarily in the form of grants from the Global Fund to Fight HIV / AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the entire spectrum of UNAIDS assistance, have made a significant contribution to the Government's success in building a strategy to respond to the epidemic and, of course, in financing an effective response to consequences.
In 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Republic of Belarus was included in the list of countries that were able to use the support tools of the Global Fund to fight the New Coronavirus. Due to this, modern test systems for diagnosing coronavirus, personal protective equipment were delivered to the republic, together with rendered assistance in equipping diagnostic laboratories.
The Republic of Belarus became one of the first countries in the European Region to confirm the exclusion of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in 2016. Belarus received the appropriate WHO certificate, which our country confirmed in 2017 and 2018.
According to international experts, Belarus may become the first country in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region that will be able to achieve the goals set by the UN until 2030 to reduce new HIV infections, AIDS deaths and discrimination against people living with HIV.
For reference: The HIV epidemic in Belarus is at a concentrated stage — it is retained mainly within certain groups of the population most vulnerable to HIV: among injecting drug users, women involved in sex business and men who promote sex with men. Since 2016, there has been a stabilization in the increase in new cases of HIV infection and in the rates of morbidity and mortality from AIDS. At the same time, the incidence rate is relatively high, and about 2.5 thousand new cases of HIV infection are registered in the country every year.
As of 2020, more than 27 thousand cases of HIV infection were registered in the Republic of Belarus, more than 21 thousand people living with HIV, the prevalence rate is 222.9 per 100 thousand population.
Belarus is located in the only region of the world at the moment where the number of HIV cases increases annually.
The UNAIDS Country Office is constantly working on projects to introduce innovative approaches to HIV prevention and information campaigns to support them: today Belarus is the only country in the EECA region where HIV self-testing is a state strategy and is recommended as an additional method in reaching the “90-90-90” Strategy. All activities are carried out in partnership with the Government and contribute to the solution of relevant government tasks.
Contacts between Belarus and UNAIDS at all levels contribute to the effective solution of urgent problems in this area, as well as to the holding of the most important international events in the area of health care in our country, including the fight against HIV / AIDS.
On 2-3 November 2016, Minsk hosted the first Regional Meeting on Expanding Access to Quality and Affordable Antiretroviral and Anti-TB Drugs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It is for the first time, at the regional level Ministers of Health from Eastern Europe and Central Asia signed a joint Declaration on HIV and Tuberculosis: Treatment for All on scaling up treatment and expanding access to quality and affordable antiretroviral and anti-TB drugs in the region. The event was organized by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNAIDS, the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Stop TB Partnership.
On 13 April 2017, Minsk hosted a meeting of the UN Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations — Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS) Michel Sidibé with the President of the Republic of Belarus H.E Mr. Lukashenko. The head of state awarded Michel Sidibé with the “Francisk Skaryna” medal for his contribution to the development of healthcare in Belarus.
On 20 – 22 November 2018, Minsk wecomed the second Regional Meeting on expanding access to quality and affordable antiretroviral and anti-tuberculosis drugs in the countries of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region. The event was attended by: the World Health Organization Regional Director for Europe (since 15 March 2019 — Deputy Director General of WHO) Zsuzsanna Jakab, the UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Tim Martineau, Head of the Regional Support Team for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Vinay Saldanha.
According to the Ministry of Health, the main result of the two meetings in 2016 and 2018 for Belarus was the introduction of modern practices in the organization of the supply of medicines and the localization of production, which made it possible to reduce the cost of purchasing drugs in this profile over the past three years by almost 3 times.
During the event, a grant confirmation was signed with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), according to which Belarus was allocated another country grant in the amount of more than 15 million US dollars to fight HIV / AIDS and tuberculosis during 2019 -2021.
Belarus is working to host the 3rd Regional Meeting in 2021.
On 8 April 2019, as part of the official visit to Geneva (Switzerland) the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus H.E. Mr. Vladimir Makei met with the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS Michel Sidibé.
Minister Makei emphasized the important contribution of UNAIDS to efforts to counter the HIV / AIDS epidemic in Belarus, including through activities with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which continues to participate in co-financing state programs. He expressed the hope for maintaining constructive cooperation, which would allow our country to more effectively confront the problem in the future.
Michel Sidibé also stressed the role of Belarus as a regional leader in the fight against HIV / AIDS. In this regard, he emphasized the interest of UNAIDS in maintaining the active support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus for the development of international cooperation in the fight against AIDS, including the use and dissemination of international expertise and best practices, leading to an increase in the availability of medicines, and a reduction in the transmission of the virus.
On 27-29 May 2019, the UNAIDS Regional Meeting for representatives of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) countries was held in Minsk, where participants discussed technical cooperation and a strategy for activities in the region for the near future. The event was attended by UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Gunilla Carlsson.
In March 2019, UNAIDS became one of the UN agencies that signed a Memorandum with the Directorate of the II European Games on the development and strengthening of cooperation between participants in the field of promoting safe and healthy lifestyles, eliminating all forms of discrimination and preventing the spread of HIV / AIDS through educational and humanitarian heritage of the II European Games.
On 23-25 June 2020, the 46th session of the Program Coordinating Council of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS) was organized. For the first time, this event was held in a virtual format and was dedicated to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the implementation of the response to HIV at the global and the country levels. The head of the Belarusian delegation at the session, First Deputy Minister of Health Mr. Dmitry Pinevich briefed the international community about the Government's efforts to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as on the measures to prevent an interruption in laboratory testing for HIV, to prevent a decrease in the number of people living with HIV and receiving treatment.