For nearly 30 years, ICASO has played a vital role as the community voice in the global fight against HIV and AIDS. At a time when governments, researchers, donors and the United Nations system were only beginning to understand the magnitude of the challenges posed by this global epidemic, our founders fought for a place at the table. They were often not welcomed and their presence was frequently a source of profound discomfort for the powerful. The legacy of those early activists from all corners of the world – fighting for their own lives and for the very survival of their communities – is immeasurable.
Since then, communities living with and affected by HIV have fought many battles, suffered many setbacks and achieved remarkable progress. It is through their efforts that scientists and doctors have come to treat participants in research and patients as partners, rather than passive subjects and recipients of care. It is because of the relentless advocacy of sex workers, drug users, men who have sex with men and transgender people that attention to human rights is now seen as an essential part of the response to HIV. And it is through the persistent advocacy of people living with HIV themselves that no program, service or policy is seen as truly legitimate unless it has been developed or delivered with their full participation. ICASO is proud to have played its part in these remarkable gains.
Access to antiretroviral treatment has brought renewed vitality to communities affected by HIV around the world. Even as we recognize this remarkable progress, we also know that half of the people in need of treatment still do not have access, that access to treatment for key populations is grossly inadequate, that stigma, discrimination and human rights abuses remain pervasive, and that unless we achieve a step change in prevention – especially for key populations, women and adolescents – the global goal of ending AIDS by 2030 will not be achieved.
We also recognize that the context of the global response to HIV is changing. In the era of the Sustainable Development Goals, we will need to work harder than ever to ensure that HIV remains a priority for governments, UN organizations and for the international community. We will need to develop new alliances in health and development to achieve shared goals. And it will be critical to continue to share evidence, knowledge and experience – especially from our own communities – about what works and what does not.
This strategic plan for ICASO for 2017-2020 aims to address this evolving context and these challenges. As we work with our constituency of diverse communities and our many partners to implement the plan over the next five years, I am confident that we will remain true to the spirit of ICASO’s founders. We will continue to make our voices heard, even if at times it is not comfortable. We – the communities living with and affected by HIV – are still fighting for our lives.
Strategic Objective 1: Evidence for Advocacy and Action
ICASO will support initiatives to strengthen capacities and skills in the community sector to access, generate, interpret and use scientific and other forms of evidence to support advocacy, policy and programming.
Strategic Objective 2: Alliances for Dialogue, Exchange and Learning
ICASO will create opportunities for strategic, action-oriented dialogue, exchange and learning within the community sector and with allies in other fields of health, justice, human rights and development.
Strategic Objective 3: Advocacy for Accountability, Sustainability and Impact
ICASO will support evidence-based advocacy to promote sustainability, accountability and impact in the HIV response in the context of the SDGs, Fast-Track targets and universal health coverage.