As published on the Facebook page of the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development
Jonathan Gunthorp (Southern African Aids Trust):
Intervention at the 40th UNAIDS PCB meeting, 29 June 2017
“I speak on behalf of the Southern African AIDS Trust (SAT), a partnership of over 30 NGOs and CBOs in Eastern & Southern Africa.
I come from a country where every week 2400, mostly girls and young women, contract HIV, and where in a recent 51-day period 60 women were murdered in just one of our nine provinces in what has become an unprecedented epidemic of femicide.
Moderator, over the last ten years we have combined prevention, we have revolutionized it, reinvented it, & reinvigorated it. We have also underfunded, undervalued, and over-medicalized it.
What we have not done is succeed with it.
So when I’m faced with these disturbingly cheerful prevention balloons and I do not see a balloon and a target for ‘Gender Equality’; I do not see a balloon and a target for ‘GBV’; I do not see a balloon and a target for integration with SRHR; and I do not see a balloon and a target for ‘Keeping girls in safe schools, or for removing legal barriers to adolescent access to health services, amongst many other missing balloons, I worry.
I understand the decision to focus on primary prevention. Yet every time we do so, we send signals that structural issues are not real prevention; we inadvertently over-emphasise medicalized modes of prevention; and we abdicate just a little our leadership of broader prevention.
I worry that whatever we call this new reincarnation of prevention, if it does not ‘look up’ and move from rhetoric to reality of integration into the broader SRHR and gender equality agendas of SDGs 3 & 5, then this prevention – much like the overall HIV response, and much like all of us in this room – is in danger of becoming self-referencing, self-absorbed, and by-passed by the global development agenda.
I hope that connecting the dots makes us look up. I hope that connecting the dots keeps prevention as a broader concept. I hope that the dots we connect will integrate prevention into the broader development agenda. I hope too that the dots lead us to put aside our agency interests and our introspection, and put people living with HIV, girls, and key populations at the core of a truly people-centred prevention.
I hope someone in this room can assure me that we will.”