[OUR 2015 ANNUAL REPORT IS PENDING]
Our work is driven by our vision to end AIDS. Through universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support within a human rights framework, we mobilize and support diverse communities to respond effectively to the pandemic.
We believe the end of AIDS is in sight. Everything we do is dedicated to making this a reality, sustained by the power of partnerships and the recognition that our work is guided by those directly affected by the epidemic.
We believe that the most effective approach to ending the epidemic is to work with civil society and communities. By being grounded in the community, we can achieve our goals: leadership and advocacy by and for communities; community engagement on emerging policies and issues; ensuring that strong community systems are in place for health and rights; and a commitment to a strong global community movement.
Our work is framed by policy analysis and strategic information-gathering; a focus on community-based research; building the capacity of community leaders to act as strong advocates and stewards of community-based structures for HIV mobilization and engagement; advocacy for accountability for evidence-based and human rights-based approaches; the strategic use of HIV resources for maximum impact; and developing networks to support an HIV movement that contributes more broadly to health, human rights and gender equality. This is the central focus of our “theory of change.” Because to end AIDS, we need change.
In September, along with our partners, we co-hosted Leaving no one behind in the post-2015 Development Framework at the United Nations. The side event focused on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of marginalized youth. Earlier, ICASO participated in the Commission on the Status of Women. This was important, as a declaration on HIV was being drafted, with little to no recognition of key populations within this context.
“if we have the knowledge and the tools to fight AIDS, why are there still people left behind?”
— Dr Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS
We completed several publications to strengthen civil society’s response to HIV. For example, a policy brief to help advocates understand the implications of being designated a Global Fund Band 4 country and consequences for key populations; and a revised version of “Coordinating with Communities”, now called “Working Together”, a comprehensive toolkit to help community advocates with strategies to ensure that their involvement as civil society in national AIDS responses is meaningful. We will be sharing this publication in English, French, Spanish and Russian with you soon.
We worked with Human Rights Watch, the International AIDS Society and the John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health to make the Robert Carr Research Award a reality. Kay Thi Win from the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers and Marta Vallejo from UNDP received the award for a collaborative research project that brought together sex worker communities, sex work rights advocates, the United Nations, researchers and governments from four Asia Pacific countries .“Sex Work and Violence: Understanding Factors for Safety and Protection” stood out as an entry because of the participation of sex workers – a population that is often neglected by research or difficult to reach – throughout the research process.
And we continued our advocacy work related to the Global Fund’s New Funding Model, built new partnerships and strengthened existing ones, and completed the official assessment and evaluation of the Global Fund-led pilot project to strengthen Country Coordinating Mechanisms’ engagement with key populations and people living with or affected by HIV, TB and malaria in 10 countries. ICASO’s findings and recommendations are being used by the Global Fund Board and Secretariat to determine the best mechanisms to deliver technical and financial support to countries to ensure the meaningful inclusion of communities throughout the grant-making process.
We participated in AIDS 2014, with a focused attention on the role of community in global policy making and civil society’s response in transitions to country ownership. In addition, along with GNP+, we hosted a series of webinars for the StepWise audience to help them prepare for the conference. StepWise was the unique online community platform for those attending the conference, which we used as an entry into two sub-sites that we supported: one for the Melbourne Youth Force, and one for the African/Black Diaspora Global Network on HIV/AIDS.
Since becoming a member of the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, we participated in the summit, Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach. It was a high level meeting hosted by the Prime Minister of Canada, where $3.5 Billion was announced for maternal, newborn and child health. We used the opportunity to share copies of our work on stigma and the prevention of vertical transmission of HIV.
- Funding Support: We are proud to announce that ICASO received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support our work in monitoring and advocating for effective implementation of the Global Fund’s New Funding Model in relation to HIV. The award is for three years, over which we will develop and implement a comprehensive package of interventions to increase the capacity for civil society and key populations in three areas to:
- Directly engage in and influence Global Fund policy and decision making, grant development and implementation.
- Build ongoing monitoring and advocacy capacity to hold key stakeholders accountable for delivering on the agreed upon results.
- Extend these tools and approaches to other priority investors in national responses, such as PEPFAR and national governments themselves.
We are not alone in this work. We are part of a strong global HIV movement, and along with our partners in civil society, and those who support out work, we need to continue to advocate for a comprehensive response to HIV, for strong community systems for health and rights, and to ensure that key populations are included in the new policy and programmatic frameworks.
That’s all for now, and look forward to working with you in 2015.
Mary Ann Torres, Executive Director, ICASO