HIV/AIDS: How Science Diplomacy Removes Political Barriers To Accessing Services

Sunday, 16 February 2014
Toronto (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Michel Kazatchkine , United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
The political, societal, scientific and medical response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the last ten years has shaped the landscape of the next era of global health. At the centre of an effective response is that it is evidence-based and targets the specific environment and the needs of the most affected and in a given country context. In many countries across the world, this has resulted in tensions between the cultural, legal and policy environment and the urgent need to address vulnerable and marginalized populations. Harm reduction (HR) interventions, for example, have been proven to be effective in preventing infection with HIV in people who inject drugs and is recommended by WHO. Yet, only 50 % of countries in the world support HR in national policy documents and or through implementation of interventions. The history of acceptance, rejection or partial recognition of HR illustrates the tensions between science and policy-making and between scientific evidence and relativist stances of political nature. Drafting global guidelines and recommendations based on a critical review of evidence, on broad consultations and consensus-seeking processes, and establishing new multi-sectoral partnerships and dialogue between the civil society and public sector, are among the tools that science diplomacy has successfully used to remove some of the societal/political barriers to access to care and that this presentation will discuss.