Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World AIDS Day, observed on 1 December:
On this World AIDS Day, I welcome the tremendous progress the world is making in responding to the AIDS epidemic. This year, world leaders made a commitment to end AIDS by 2030. The Fast Track approach launched last week will enable us to reach this goal.
Almost 14 million people worldwide are now accessing HIV treatment. We have reduced new HIV infections by 38 per cent since 2001. We have prevented 1.16 million infections among new-born babies by providing essential antiretroviral medicines. We are on track to provide antiretroviral therapy to 15 million people by 2015 and to eliminate mother-to-child transmissions within the next few years. Thanks to the dedication and energy of many partners including those in civil society, we continue to tackle and remove laws that stigmatize and discriminate. Progress is accelerating.
But the gains remain fragile. There are 35 million people living with HIV today, and some 19 million of them do not know they have the virus. There are important gaps in our response to key groups of people. Two out of three children who need treatment do not get it. Young women are particularly vulnerable in many countries with high HIV prevalence. The AIDS epidemic is increasing in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, fuelled by stigma, discrimination and punitive laws. And the essential work of community systems and support organizations often lacks support. We must leave no one behind.
I am pleased and proud to see that we are moving forward. The legacy of the AIDS response is already apparent as we confront Ebola in West Africa. We know that medical systems alone are not enough to provide robust health care. Social justice, the democratization of science, shared responsibility for financing, human rights and gender equity, and a people-centred approach to health are all lessons we have learned in the AIDS response that are being applied across the board, including in our discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.
On this World AIDS Day, I call on world leaders to unite in our common cause. We have started to turn the tide. We have set a bold target. Let us end AIDS together by 2030.