AVAC’s Samantha Rick Delivers Statement During High-level US HHS Meeting

April 11, 2024

AVAC’s Samantha Rick delivered a statement during a high-level US HHS meeting on Thursday, April 11. Read the full statement below.

“I am speaking as a representative of AVAC, an international non-profit organization that leverages global partnerships to accelerate ethical development and equitable delivery of effective HIV prevention options, as part of a comprehensive and integrated pathway to global health equity.

Without civil society having access to the proceedings, it is difficult for civil society to advocate around their own government’s positions. We urge the US to continue to push for civil society access, both to deliberations and to compilation text, so that we can effectively do our jobs and ensure that government priorities incorporate advocates’.

Without such access, we have come to some conclusions through hearsay and leaked documents, which is not ideal. One seemingly bright spot is the status of Article 9. From the most recently leaked version of the text including Member State textual edits from late March, it appears there is some consensus about what is to be included in Article 9, and little objection from the US on these points. We urge the US to push to keep the text in Article 9 as-is, particularly the provision to include access conditions in publicly-funded R&D for pandemic products. We look forward to discussing with the Administration how we can get to a place where this is standard operating procedure for all public funding regardless of its applicability to pandemics, as R&D usually builds on previous work and we may not know of a hypothetical product’s use in a pandemic situation.

A particularly dark spot in the negotiations is Article 12. From the leaked version from late March, it is clear that the US position on the pathogen access and benefits sharing system has significantly shifted. This has raised the ire of civil society advocates around the world and within the US. It is unclear why the negotiations have come this far without this level of disagreement from the US, as we had not seen nearly as many or as all-consuming edits in previous versions of the text that included the same provisions. The US must come to a position of negotiation on this topic – the Africa Group and Group for Equity, among others, have clearly stated that they will not accept lesser commitments to benefits sharing than to those required by the US around pathogen data sharing. This is a perfectly reasonable position. We implore the US to rethink its position on the PABS system and try to come up with a palatable system that has equal levels of commitments from both sectors of the system.”