What is universal access?
In 2006 governments made a historic commitment at the United Nations to scale up dramatically the AIDS response. In the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS (2006) countries committed to provide universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services to all those in need by 2010. The achievement of universal access remains a fundamental priority for UNAIDS. This commitment has as its foundation the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS (2001), in which governments first made a series of time-bound commitments to expand their efforts to address HIV. Both of these instruments support achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly MDG 6, which seeks to halt and reverse the spread of HIV by 2015.
UNAIDS is calling for a review of universal access in 2010 that will reflect on the commitments made in the 2001 Declaration of Commitment and the 2006 Political Declaration, building on the data received from countries through the UNGASS reporting framework.
The country and regional consultations that kicked off the commitment to universal access in 2006 identified a number of barriers to expanding HIV programming, including poor supply systems and financial mechanisms, weak health systems, low levels of human resources, high levels of stigma and discrimination, gender inequality and marginalization of key populations at higher risk. Nevertheless, countries committed to tacking these obstacles and set national targets for universal access. Although progress has been achieved in some countries in the areas of prevention of mother to-child transmission and the provision of antiretroviral therapy, many countries are hindered by insufficient progress in addressing the obstacles identified in the first set of country consultations, as well as the underlying social determinants of HIV risk and vulnerability. In particular, high levels of discrimination against people living with HIV, gender inequality, violence against women and girls, and marginalization of men who have sex with men, people who use drugs and sex workers, combined with punitive laws, policies and practices, continue to hold back effective national responses.