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Message on World AIDS Day 2016

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON WORLD AIDS DAY

1 December 2016

 

Thirty-five years since the emergence of AIDS, the international community can look back with some pride but we must also look ahead with resolve and commitment to reach our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

 

There has been real progress in tackling the the disease. More people than ever are on treatment. Since 2010, the number of children infected through mother-to-child transmission has dropped by half. Fewer people die of AIDS-related causes each year. And people living with HIV are living longer lives.

 

            The number of people with access to life-saving medicines has doubled over the past five years, now topping 18 million. With the right investments, the world can get on the fast-track to achieve our target of 30 million people on treatment by 2030. Access to HIV medicines to prevent mother-to-child transmission is now available to more than 75 percent of those in need.

 

While there is clear progress, gains remain fragile. Young women are especially vulnerable in countries with high HIV prevalence, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Key populations continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. New infections are on the rise among people who inject drugs as well gay men and other men who have sex with men. The AIDS epidemic is increasing in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, fuelled by stigma, discrimination and punitive laws. Globally, people who are economically disadvantaged lack access to services and care. Criminalization and discrimination foster new infections each day. Women and girls are still especially hard hit.

 

            The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted with a promise to leave no one behind. Nowhere is this more important than in tackling AIDS. Supporting young, vulnerable and marginalized people will change the course of the epidemic. The UNAIDS strategic framework is aligned with the SDGs, which highlight how the work against HIV is linked to progress in education, peace, gender equality and human rights. I am proud to see how the United Nations and UNAIDS, under the leadership of Michel Sidibé, are committed to finding new and better approaches to end this epidemic. 

 

During its first decade, affected groups refused to accept inaction, mediocrity and weakness in the AIDS response. Their courage drove progress on securing women and children’s health, lowering the costs of lifesaving drugs and giving voice to the voiceless. We must all join together in that same uncompromising spirit. On World AIDS Day, I salute the tireless effort of leaders, civil society, colleagues in the UN and the private sector to advance this cause.

 

As I prepare to complete my tenure as Secretary-General, I issue a strong call to all: let us recommit, together, to realizing our vision of a world free of AIDS.

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UN S-G remarks at UNAIDS report launch

United Nations Secretary-General

 REMARKS AT UNAIDS LAUNCH OF UNAIDS AND LANCET COMMISSION REPORT:

“DEFEATING AIDS – ADVANCING GLOBAL HEALTH”

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today we launch a major report produced by an impressive Commission.

Heads of State and health experts joined with people living with HIV, young people, activists and other partners to give us their best recommendations in Defeating AIDS – Advancing Global Health.

A quarter of a million people in this region live with HIV. The governments here struggle to finance their responses. The epidemic is only made worse by punitive laws and stigma. These drive vulnerability to HIV infection – and block access to life-saving treatment.

Homophobia threatens both human rights and public health. We cannot tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, nor on the basis of gender identity. We must also defend the human rights of sex workers and of people who inject drugs.

This Report has four main messages.

First, we have the knowledge, tools and know-how to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The Commission spells out how to achieve this.

Second, we need to urgently increase and fully fund our AIDS response. Today the world invests $19 billion annually in addressing AIDS. To reach our targets, we need to almost double this amount. I am calling for a rapid scale-up – led by countries, with critical support from global and private partners – over the next five years so that we will be on track to end the epidemic by 2030.

Third, we must apply lessons learned from the AIDS response to other complex challenges.

Young people, women, gay activists and campaigners for equality drive progress. Activism pushes boundaries–to ensure access to affordable medicines, political influence and justice.

Fourth, we can leave no one behind. AIDS will only end when we protect the human rights of all.

This disease thrives on unjust power relations and inequalities. We have to battle all forms of societal ills including stigma, intolerance, discrimination and violence. To end this epidemic, we need gender equality. We need to protect sexual and reproductive rights. And we need to give adolescents life-skills, including education about their sexuality. AIDS is about more than human health – it is fundamentally an issue of human rights. 

For the past 15 years, the world has been inspired by the Millennium Development Goals to act together against AIDS. Now, we are forging new sustainable development goals.

Ending the AIDS epidemic – in all places and all communities – is essential to realizing our vision of a life of dignity for all.

And I thank you for your commitment.

Thank you very much.

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