From 11-15 April 2016, Caritas Internationalis brought together global partners to discuss the role of faith-based organizations and the private sector in closing the global HIV testing and treatment gap for children living with HIV. Two events were held in the Vatican City and co-organized with UNAIDS, PEPFAR, and the Vatican’s Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital.
Pope Francis called on meeting participants to find “new possibilities of providing greater access to life-saving diagnosis and treatment” for children….. Let it (the dialogue) continue until we find the will, the technical expertise, the resources and the methods that provide access to diagnosis and treatment available to all, and not simply to a privileged few for…there is no human life that is qualitatively more significant than another.”
Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, hosted and opened a high-level meeting with representatives from the private sector, including pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies; faith-based organizations responding to HIV; groups of people living with HIV; national governments; the United Nations and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In his opening remarks, the Cardinal drew from Pope Francis’ Laudato si’. In this Encyclical, the Pope challenges the world to take renewed and coordinated action against the factors, such as climate change, pandemics, poverty, conflict and violence that result in the deterioration of the natural and social environment.
Participants at the earlier meeting debated and agreed upon the most urgent actions needed to strengthen equitable access to testing and treatment for children living with HIV. Delegates in the second meeting committed themselves to find collective solutions, such as multi-partner agreements to encourage more research on HIV treatment for children; accelerating the process of testing, approving and registering new HIV medicines for children; innovative solutions to present drugs and supplies stock-outs; and health system strengthening.
This follow- up consultation 16-17 May is to finalize a roadmap or strategy to improve access to HIV treatment for children, for presentation at the High Level Meeting in New York in June.