Fast-Track Cities Welcomes New Communities on World AIDS Day 2019
The International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) welcomed several new cities and municipalities to the Fast-Track Cities network to commemorate World AIDS Day 2019. The initiative is marking its fifth anniversary since the Paris Declaration on Fast-Track Cities was originally signed by 26 municipalities on World AIDS Day 2014 in Paris. Since then the Fast-Track Cities network has grown to more than 300 municipalities that are working in solidarity to end urban HIV, tuberculosis, and viral hepatitis epidemics by 2030.
IAPAC President/CEO Dr. José M. Zuniga spoke at a signing ceremony on World AIDS Day 2019 in which both the City of St. Louis and Saint Louis County joined the Fast-Track Cities initiative. St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said the initiative “truly furthers the overall vision of the city’s health department, which is to create an equitable city achieving optimal health for all.”
“We proudly welcome the City and County of St. Louis to the Fast-Track Cities initiative on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2019,” said Dr. Zuniga. “St. Louis will benefit from the collective best practices and lessons learned from a network of more than 300 Fast-Track Cities and other municipalities that are working in solidarity to end urban HIV epidemics by 2030. As important, the Fast-Track Cities network’s emphasis on community-led HIV responses aligns well with the US federal government’s prioritization of 48 counties, two territories, and seven states, including Missouri.”
IAPAC’s Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chris Duncombe delivered remarks at a “Fast-Track Nevada” signing ceremony in Las Vegas also on World AIDS Day 2019 to welcome Clark County, Nevada, and the cities of Boulder, Henderson, and Las Vegas to the Fast-Track Cities initiative. By reaching a critical mass of cities across the state, Nevada was recognized as the first “Fast-Track State” in the United States. Clark County, Nevada, is one of the 48 counties that are being targeted by the Trump administration’s nationwide plan to end the HIV epidemic.
“The Fast-Track Nevada initiative represents the dedication and support of our local, state, federal, and global partners who are committed to providing comprehensive resources in our community and stopping the epidemic,” said Dr. Fermin Leguen, Acting Chief Health Officer, Southern Nevada Health District.
Texas became America’s second “Fast-Track State” on December 4, 2019, as civic leaders, health officials, and community advocates gathered to add Harris County and the City of Houston to the Fast-Track Cities network. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed the Paris Declaration alongside IAPAC’s President/CEO, Dr. Zuniga. The ceremony coincided with the final day of the Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit in Houston.
“Ending HIV is not only a lifesaving endeavor, it is also an economically sound approach that saves millions of dollars in health care costs,” said Mayor Turner. “I’m proud to add Houston as a Fast Track City, complementing the quality work of the Houston Health Department in ending the HIV epidemic.”
“Today, we are proudly reaffirming our commitment to helping those living with HIV/AIDS and to ending the epidemic,” said Judge Hidalgo. “We will continue to provide the best quality care for our HIV/AIDS community and work to stop new transmissions from occurring, but we know there is so much more to be done.”
Dallas (Dallas County), Austin (Travis County), and San Antonio (Bexar County), Texas are also members of the Fast-Track Cities network. The four Texas counties are among the 48 counties that are being targeted in the federal government’s plan to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.
Palermo became Italy’s third Fast-Track City on November 24, 2019, with the signature of Mayor Leoluca Orlando. Upon signing the Paris Declaration, Mayor Orland emphasized that “in Palermo we want to make everyone visible, because those who are invisible have no rights.” The event was attended by Rosaria Iardino, an Italian journalist and advocate for people living with HIV who is President of Fondazione The Bridge and coordinates the work of Fast-Track Cities in Milan. IAPAC was represented by Dr. Antonella d’Arminio Monforte who is a professor at the University of Milan.
The City of Florence, Italy, joined the Fast-Track Cities network on November 30, 2019. Mayor Dario Nardella emphasized the importance of HIV prevention as he signed the Paris Declaration. IAPAC was represented by our Vice President for Strategic Partnerships Bertrand Audoin.
Several municipalities have recently joined Fast-Track Cities from the United Kingdom. The health minister for Wales, Vaughan Gething, attended a ceremony alongside IAPAC’s Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, Mr. Audoin and other local officials and advocates to welcome Cardiff to the Fast-Track Cities network on November 28, 2019.
The City of Bristol, England joined the initiative two days later on November 30, 2019.
“By adopting the Fast Track Cities Initiative’s principles in Bristol and pioneering a ‘One City’ approach to tackle health inequalities, I am confident that we can rise to this challenge and end new HIV infections by 2030,” said Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees.
Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries signed the Paris Declaration on November 25, 2019, joining six other Fast-Track Cities in France that are working together to reverse their local HIV epidemics. The ceremony coincided with a public awareness campaign to promote HIV testing.
Our Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, Mr. Audoin represented IAPAC at a signing ceremony in Prague, Czech Republic, on December 5, 2019, that was also attended by Mayor Zdeněk Hřib and health councilor Milena John. The incidence of HIV infections has been rising in the Czech Republic in recent years. Since monitoring began in 1985, roughly one out of two new infections has occurred in the capital city of Prague.
“I am glad that Prague will join other world capitals in the fight against AIDS. With Fast-Track Cities, we can say: together we are stronger, together we are louder, together we can change the world. The health of our citizens is a priority for us and we must not underestimate it,” said Mayor Hřib.
The cities of Podgorica, Bijelo Poljé, and Bar, Montenegro joined the Fast-Track Cities initiative on December 2, 2019. Pordgorica Mayor Ivan Vuković signed the Paris Declaration alongside Dušan Raičević, the Mayor of Bar, and Petar Smolović, the Mayor of Bijelo Poljé. Mayor Vuković said that stigma remains a significant challenge in Montenegro.
“We have decided not to turn a blind eye to the problem, but to tackle it, and in this way give an institutional response in accordance with what the goals and principles of action are at the global level,” said Vuković, who also pledged to prioritize HIV prevention and education for young people.
The cities of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Battambang, Cambodia joined the Fast-Track Cities initiative on December 4, 2019, along with the province of Banteay Meanchey. According to a new report by UNAIDS, there were 880 new HIV infections in Cambodia in 2018, reflecting a 95% decrease from 16,500 new infections at the peak of the local epidemic in 1997.