In 2014, Aids Fonds – STOP AIDS NOW! – Soa Aids Nederland developed a new long-term strategy, entitled ‘Setting Milestones’. This ambitious strategy includes an integral vision on ending AIDS and creating a world in which EVERYBODY has access to prevention, treatment, care, and support services for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Much has been achieved in the past years. But to realise our final objective, we need to overcome a large number of obstacles first. This is why we focus on four strategic milestones – concrete steps that steadily bring us closer to the realisation of our vision:
More people tested
Worldwide, nearly fifty percent of the people living with HIV never had a test. And many people living with another STI do not know they have it. This must change: The sooner an HIV infection or other STI is detected, the better an individual’s prognosis will be and the better an epidemic will be able to be controlled. This is why a sufficient number of facilities should be available for prevention and diagnostics, and for medical and social support.
Fewer barriers for the most vulnerable
Obstacles which hinder the use of services, also need to be tackled. We see many barriers, such as legislation, which violates the human rights of sexual minorities or criminalises sex workers, prohibits the distribution of clean needles and condoms among people who use drugs, or complicates access to HIV tests for youth under eighteen years of age, because they need a formal approval from one of their parents. Other significant barriers are discrimination against HIV patients and HIV-related stigma within communities.
Strong civil society
To effectively address HIV and other STIs, it is crucial to tune services to the needs of the people who are directly involved. Civil society organisations have a central place in societies, and are in close contact with people who are affected by, or are at risk of getting HIV and STIs. They see what is going on, know the needs of the target group well, and are able to reach the most vulnerable groups. In addition, their role in influencing governments and donors is often of vital importance.
More scientific research
Scientific research is not only required for better understanding pathogens and enhancing infection prevention and treatment methods, but also for better comprehending the complex dynamics of epidemics and the political and social responses to them. And research is essential for measuring the impact of our work. Investing in research will always remain one of our priorities.
What to do
We have gathered a wealth of knowledge and experience, during the past three decades. In a short period of time, we have made huge progress, moving from a large knowledge gap to solid professional insight into what works and what does not, and what is required and what is not. We have learned much from our experience. To achieve our four main objectives, we will continue to focus in the coming years on the following:
- Funding, starting, and developing innovative approaches and programmes;
- Strengthening civil society organisations, while paying special attention to vulnerable groups and the protection and improvement of their human rights;
- Implementing national programmes to address HIV and other STIs, and to promote sexual health in the Netherlands;
- Advocating for the end of AIDS and global access to prevention, treatment, care, and support, toward governments and multilateral bodies; and
- Mobilising communities, the general public, and the private sector, to support us in realising our vision.
In this way, we can play a vital role in further curbing HIV and STI epidemics, both globally and in the Netherlands. ‘Setting Milestones’ sets attainable milestones on the road leading to the end of AIDS and the access to prevention, treatment, care, and support for everybody affected by HIV and other STIs.
Do you want to read the full text of our multi-annual strategy? Download here Setting Milestones.