The annual Fast-Track Cities 2021 Conference is hosted October 20-22, 2021, in Lisbon by the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), in collaboration with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Fast-Track Cities Institute, and other partners.

Key themes of Fast-Track Cities 2021:

  • Best practices and policy recommendations to ensure access to holistic HIV care, which supports long-term treatment success and quality of life for all People living with or at risk of HIV.
  • Set out targets and programmes for health-related quality of life that governments with HIV community must put in place.
  • Health equity, to ensure access to innovative care and better HIV health outcomes for all communities.

The delegation from the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region is also taking part in the Conference this year and represented by the UNODC Programme Office in Eastern Europe, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the Alliance for Public Health, NGO 100% Life, officials of the Kyiv City State Administration.

On behalf of Vitali Klitschko and the Kyiv Mayor’s Office, Anna Starostenko, Deputy Mayor of the Kyiv City State Administration spoke at High-Level Panel on the first day: “We have made every effort to ensure that HIV / AIDS prevention and treatment programs do not stop, as well to adapt it in COVID-19 reality. Thanks to close and well-coordinated cooperation between the municipality and the state, we managed to ensure the implementation of the preventive component of the HIV response. Our prevention programs, such as mobile teams, outpatient clinics, syringe exchange points, have reached 90 percent of risk groups … All these actions did not slow down the Fast-Track goals, but also improved the achievement of certain results. According to the first 90 indicator – 77% are aware of their HIV status. According to the second 90 component – 83.4% know about the status and receive treatment. The third indicator is that we have even exceeded our expectations: 95% of them are receiving ART. Kyiv willingly shares its best practices, cases, positive experience in fight against HIV with cities in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. In particular, a year ago, our municipality, together with partners from the Alliance for Public Health, hosted delegations from more than 20 cities in our region to discuss modern and effective approaches to fight against HIV and TB. And today, more than 20 cities have already joined the Fast-Track family in the region and are implementing the ambitious 95-95-95 plans.”

Ievgen Kushnir, Manager of international programs, Alliance for Public Health notes: “Despite the “hybrid” format of the event – online and offline, the most interesting and deep program is ahead. At this Conference, it is very interesting for me to get acquainted in detail with the achievements and successful interventions in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic: what worked and what did not, in order to determine the next steps and opportunities for the cities of EECA. Our task also at Fast-Track Cities 2021 is to share tangible results of cooperation with the mayor’s offices of our region – today we are cooperating with 25 cities, 17 of which have signed the Paris Declaration and are moving towards the goal of 95-95-95 step by step. I am glad that already on the first day of the Conference, Carlos Moedas, the new Mayor of Lisbon, shared his interest and support to the Regional Initiative of the Alliance #InYourPower to defeat the HIV epidemic. It confirms once again that the effect of the global, well-coordinated work of cities in the fight against HIV will not keep you waiting long.”

The purpose of the Conference in 2021 is to analyze the success and progress of participants in the Fast-Track Cities movement, to discuss common problems for all parties involved, and also provide an opportunity to share best practices in overcoming HIV, TB, HBV and HCV in cities. In addition, the conference organizers included the COVID-19 epidemic among the issues discussed. As José M. Zuniga, President, IAPAC and the Fast-Track Cities Institute, highlighted at the Conferene Welcome: “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fast-Track Cities are at the forefront of advancing global public health goals. City multilateralism is critical for cities to serve as engines of innovation to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3.3.” Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, UNAIDS supported him as well: “Cities and municipalities will play a central role in ending AIDS. Through bold public health leadership, they can end the inequalities and social exclusion that preventing the most marginalized from exercising their right to health.”

During his welcome speech, the contribution of Fast-Track Cities was also noted by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of Portugal: “This congress is crucial to remind us of the fundamental role of cities on the health of communities. Apart from the progress made, we still have a long way to reach the sustainability goals we have set.”

Since UNAIDS engaged high-level global stakeholders in dialogue in December 2013 to develop a roadmap to expand access to HIV testing and treatment, there has been an increase in accountability and commitment between governments, NGOs and community leaders by 2030 to eliminate AIDS as a public health threat. At the same time, recognizing that the active political engagement of mayors and other municipal leaders will be critical to the fight against HIV in cities (and therefore at regional and country levels), 26 cities and municipalities signed the Paris Declaration of Fast Track in 2014 to eradicate the HIV epidemic (Fast-Track Cities). To date, the initiative has a map of more than 350 cities and municipalities around the world, many of which have made great strides in achieving and exceeding UNAIDS targets of 90-90-90. In addition, Fast-Track Cities’ work also aims to eliminate stigma and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for key populations: people living with HIV (PLHIV), tuberculosis (TB) and viral hepatitis, as it remains clear that the fight must go the same way against all these public health threats at the same time.