Statement |

WHO 69th World Health Assembly: Agenda item 15.1 - HIV and viral hepatitis, 2016 - 2021

Speaker: Jessica Burry

MSF welcomes WHO’s Global Health Sector Strategy on HIV and urges Member States to rapidly adopt and implement WHO’s HIV guidelines, particularly the recommendation to provide antiretroviral therapy to all people living with HIV upon diagnosis. Evidence shows ‘treat all’ - also known as test and treat - policies can decrease the risk of developing AIDS by 57%, reduce the risk of sexual transmission by 96%, and give most people living with HIV a life expectancy comparable to HIV-negative people.

'Test and treat' can facilitate accelerated scale-up of ART in low coverage countries, in conflict and emergency settings, and for hard-to-reach groups. In such settings, test and treat is feasible and should be considered part of the package of care. It is vital that ‘test and treat’ be provided to everyone, everywhere – not only to specific populations or hardest hit regions. Although implementation is challenging in certain contexts, this is no excuse for inaction.

MSF also welcomes the first Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis.  Reducing inequalities in access to diagnostics and treatments will be pivotal to eliminate viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030.

The elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030 will only happen if fundamental political decisions are taken and implemented:

  • ambitious hepatitis B immunisation programmes;

  • proactive action against high prices for life-saving drugs – which is an issue in both low - middle income and in high income countries

  • reduction of the unacceptable regulatory time lag for the registration of new drugs in low- and middle-income countries;

  • refusal of any unethical anti-diversion policies; and

  • universal access to low-cost quality-assured diagnostics and generics.

MSF urges Member States to endorse the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis and to provide resources for its timely implementation on a large scale.