Civil Society Leaves Important Mark at IAS 2017

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On 22-26 July 2017, ITPC Global, Regional Directors from ITPC LATCA and ITPC MENA, and representatives from ITPCru were in Paris, France for the 2017 International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2017). With support from the Bridging the Gaps initiative, we were able to ensure treatment access issues – particularly as they affect key populations – were brought to the center of an otherwise strictly scientific conference.
Joined by activists from across the globe, here is what we did to ensure visibility and action on HIV treatment access:

“Last month WHO added dolutegravir to the Essential Medicines list, but because ViiV’s access policy EXCLUDES middle- income countries, millions of people are left without access to it!”

ITPC IP & Access to Medicines Lead Othoman Mellouk led activists in action against ViiV Healthcare. The group marched through the conference center and stormed ViiV’s exhibition booth to demand a change in the corporation’s restricted voluntary license and poor transparency practices!

Photo ©IAS/Steve Forrest/Workers’ Photos

“When you meaningfully invest in communities, you can do more and you can do better!”

ITPC Executive Director Solange Baptiste spoke at the IAS 2017 Official Press Event on Impacts of Investing in HIV highlighting the unintended consequences of the shift to domestic funding and why community investment and strengthening is critical.

“We pledge to remember… We pledge to hold governments, donors, and service providers accountable for the care that each person living with HIV needs… We pledge to be innovative, unconventional, and inconvenient in our approaches to end AIDS!”

Activists stood up and honor Prudence Mabele and Mark Wainberg at the IAS 2017 opening ceremony. Sibongile Tshabalala gave empowering remarks on the legacy of the two leaders.

Photo ©IAS/Steve Forrest/Workers’ Photos

“Where is France? Where is Macron? President Emmanuel Macron, DON’T make HIV great again!!”

Activists shamed and denounced the French Minister of Health and President Emmanuel Macron at the IAS 2017 opening ceremony in response to French policies that cut budgets, reduce development assistance funding, and threaten the human rights of key populations!

Copyright: Marcus Rose/IAS

“Let’s invest in platforms that bring communities and civil society together, and give them the space at AIDS 2018”

ITPC Director of Global Programs Wame Mosime, on the IAS panel looking ahead at AIDS 2018, discussed the achievements and challenges in the international HIV response ahead of the next IAS conference in Amsterdam. To her point, ITPC hopes to host a pre-conference event next year. Stay tuned for details!

Copyright: Marcus Rose/IAS

“Women with HIV are not able to prevent mother-to child transmission. They have to choose whether to breastfeed their babies & transmit HIV or let them starve to death.”

Venezuelan activist Jesus Aguais took the stage at the plenary session to call for urgent global solidarity for Venezuela. The country has been left behind, with 80% of people living with HIV without treatment.

“Civil society can take direct actions – like patent oppositions, which are already making an impact in countries like Argentina, Ukraine, Russia, and Thailand.”

ITPCru Intellectual Property Lead Sergey Golovin (center) spoke on a panel on the affordability of drugs, highlighting case studies from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“Although treatment is free for most people in the Dominican Republic, other expenses can be a barrier to access and retention to HIV care and treatment.”

ITPC LATCA Regional Director Alma de Leon (center) presented her abstract on the results of a community-based study on out-of-pocket expenditures associated with HIV treatment and care.

“Gilead Sciences is funding this conference and making a lot of positive public relations, but we all know that its pricing practices leave millions of people without access to lifesaving treatment!”

ITPC IP and Access to Medicines Lead Othoman Mellouk delivered the community address at the closing plenary. Read the full statement here!

To see more of the action, check out our Facebook and Twitter #IAS2017