On June 2, the United Nations General Assembly agreed a Political Declaration which provides a political blueprint for achieving Universal Access. It sets out commitments for countries to develop, by the end of 2006, ambitious national plans to scale up towards universal access by 2010. The commitments include:
working towards comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, with interim targets for 2008;
providing $20 to 23 billion annually by 2010 for AIDS responses;
promoting the rights and reducing the vulnerability of sex workers, men who have sex with men, children, women, adolescent girls and drug users;
intensifying efforts to develop new technology especially microbicides and vaccines; ensuring that no credible, sustainable national plan should go unfunded; and
strengthening countries’ capacity to use the flexibilities within TRIPS because of their importance in protecting public health.
The UK delegation—led by my right. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development and by the Minister of State for Public Health, including four representatives from civil society, two parliamentarians and one representative from the Overseas Territories—played an active role in the difficult negotiations which led to the agreement of this Declaration. The document broadly reflects the core issues that the UK wanted to see included. We would have preferred to see explicit reference to vulnerable groups—sex workers, men who have sex with men, drug users, prisoners and migrants. But the Declaration does commit to promote the rights of these groups. As such, it presents progress—something which will promote future action towards universal access, and that can be used as the basis for future discussions.