STOPAIDS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement

 

5 principles to uphold in the COVID-19 response. 

STOPAIDS members stand in solidarity with all those affected by the COVID-19 crisis. We are working to identify how we can best support the COVID-19 response. The pandemic continues to escalate globally and, with it, the understanding that COVID-19 will not affect everyone equally.  

We are concerned that widespread fear and uncertainty about COVID-19 could inadvertently lead to actions that do harm, especially to the most marginalised and vulnerable populations, and could cause governments to focus inwards, at the expense of critical international collaboration. 

As an organisation that has played a critical role in the global HIV response over the last two decades, and as host for the Action for Global Health UK network, we have consulted with our members and put forward five principles that must guide decision makers – globally and here in the UK – throughout the COVID-19 response. 

  1. Leave No One Behind. An inclusive global response that prioritises the most marginalised and vulnerable populations is critical. The response must recognise the intersectional inequalities, including, but not exclusively, poverty, health status, geography, age, race, sexual orientation and gender identity, that will drive vulnerability to the impact of COVID-19, and ensure that any data used and gathered is disaggregated to reflect this and enable a targeted response.
  2. A Rights-based Approach. We must ensure that everybody’s human rights are realised and upheld. Stigma, discrimination, undue or un-evidenced restrictions and harmful criminal sanctions and policy environments threaten our ability to realise the right to health for all. Additionally, public health must take precedence over private profit and leaders must be willing to take strong political action to achieve this.
  3. Universal Health Coverage. We need strong, fully resourced and resilient health systems everywhere, with a healthy workforce and equitable access to diagnostics, vaccines, medicines, in order to be able to respond to COVID-19 and ongoing pandemics.  Primary health care provision must be a high priority for governments as health systems react to, and recover from the impact of COVID-19. At a minimum, health systems in crisis must still be equipped to prevent and treat  HIV and TB, and have a coordinated plan to protect comprehensive HIV and TB prevention, treatment, psycho-social support and care services as soon as possible after the COVID-19 crisis.
  4. Meaningful Community and Civil Society Engagement. We must enable and resource affected communities and civil society to be meaningfully involved in the planning, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of the COVID-19 response – and ensure that they have the information and equipment that they need to protect themselves. Core as well as project funding for community organisations is fundamental to maintaining and building new trusted support links within marginalised populations and sustaining their vital peer support networks.
  5. International Solidarity. We call for the international community to work more closely together across borders, not further apart. In particular, the WHO must play a leading role in strengthening international coordination. Countries should be wary of new measures that promote isolationism, such as limiting medicine exports. 

STOPAIDS will continue to facilitate discussions amongst our members to help members to adapt to the ongoing crisis and its impact.  

 

Many of our members have issued important statements to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, including:

Keep an eye on our social media and our website for further updates.  In the meantime, here are some actions that you can take and some readings that may be of use: 

  • STOPAIDS and 60 other organisations have called on national governments as well as EU decision-makers to put safeguards for transparency, accessibility and affordability to public funding for COVID-19 related research so that the final products will be accessible to all who need them. Read the letter here. 
  • STOPAIDS has joined with 16 other organisations to write to the PM and SoS for International Trade, demanding that US negotiations are put on hold to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the letter here. 
  • Take Action! Sign the petition to call on the UK government to ensure that any vaccine developed with public money is made affordable to the NHS as well as lower-income countries. And urge them to work globally so that any vaccine reaches the most vulnerable everywhere. 
  • Take Action! Email the health secretary’s office today to ask Matt Hancock to publicly welcome and commit to supporting the proposal for a Covid-19 global mechanism for all countries to get access to affordable testing, treatment and vaccines.

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Useful Resources

  • FCAA has created a COVID-19 resource page including funder responses, philanthropic and HIV-related resources.
  • i-Base has created a COVID-19 page including links to i-Base articles and posts about the new coronavirus and COVID-19.
  • BOND has produced a resource page to help you decide what steps your organisations should take to stay safe. 
  • AVERT has created a COVID-19 section on their website to talk you through everything you need to know about COVID-19 and the impact on people living with HIV. https://www.avert.org/coronavirus
  • UNAIDS has released an infographic illustrating the lessons from HIV for an effective, community-led response to COVID-19. Find the infographic here. 
  • National AIDS Trust has pulled together the latest information on coronavirus for people living with HIV and it’s being updated regularly as new information becomes available. https://www.nat.org.uk/coronavirus-hiv 
  • BHIVA has produced advice on HIV and Coronavirus (COVID-19) which can be found on their website here. 
  • Frontline AIDS has developed this technical brief to provide people living with HIV, their caregivers and organisations supporting them with basic guidance on COVID-19.
  • The 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020), to be held on 6-10 July 2020, will become the first virtual edition of the International AIDS Conference. Read the announcement here.
  • HIV 2020 has been cancelled and alternatives are being explored. Read the announcement here.