Bold commitments to action made at the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS
The new Political Declaration adopted by United Nations Member States charts a course to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, 10 June 2016—United Nations Member States have committed to implementing a bold agenda to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 during the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, held in New York, United States of America, from 8 to 10 June. The progressive, new and actionable Political Declaration includes a set of specific, time-bound targets and actions that must be achieved by 2020 if the world is to get on the Fast-Track and end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS was convened by the President of the General Assembly and co-facilitated by Switzerland and Zambia. At the opening, the President of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, urged Member States to commit to action.
“All stakeholders must now step up to the plate. Today is the day that we collectively say that we will end the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” said Mr Lykketoft. “We must pay greater attention to equality and inclusion, uphold human rights and speak out against stigma and discrimination.”
During the opening plenary, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said that the AIDS response had been a “source of innovation and inspiration,” and the Executive Director of UNAIDS outlined the progress made in recent years, with 17 million people accessing antiretroviral treatment and significant declines in AIDS-related deaths and new HIV-infections among children.
“For the first time in history we can say that in Africa there are more people initiating HIV treatment than there are new HIV infections,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. He also underlined the importance of inclusion, saying, “The doors of the United Nations should be open to all.”
Among many of the civil society representatives who participated in and spoke at the meeting, Loyce Maturu, a young woman living with HIV from Zimbabwe, shared her inspiring story during the opening plenary about growing up living with HIV. “I want young people living with HIV to be able to realize their dreams and hopes for the future,” she said.
Ndaba Mandela, a grandson of Nelson Mandela, spoke passionately about his own family’s experience of HIV and urged everyone present to stand together to end AIDS by 2030. “I’m here to ask you to continue the legacy of my grandfather, Nelson Mandela: a legacy of unity and leadership.”
In addition to the plenary sessions around 600 participants, including 10 Heads of State and Government and more than 60 ministers, people living with HIV, representatives of civil society, representatives of international organizations and the private sector, scientists and researchers took part in five official panels and more than 30 side events to translate the new Political Declaration into action and results.
The five official panels were under the following themes:
- AIDS within the Sustainable Development Goals: leveraging the end of AIDS for social transformation and sustainable development.
- Financing and sustaining the end of AIDS: the window of opportunity.
- Getting ahead of the looming treatment crisis: an action agenda for getting to 90–90–90.
- Leaving no one behind: ending stigma and discrimination through social justice and inclusive societies.
- Children, adolescent girls and young women: preventing new HIV infections.
Participants called for access to comprehensive sexuality education and harm reduction services as well as strengthening outreach to young women and adolescent girls and key populations, including men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs, transgender people and prisoners as well as migrants.
During the High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, major announcements were made in support of ending the epidemic by 2030.
The United States of America announced the launch of a new US$ 100 million Key Populations Investment Fund to increase access to HIV services for sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, transgender people and prisoners. The new fund will focus on reducing stigma and discrimination, empowering community leadership in the design and delivery of services and increasing the quality of data on key populations.
Yusuf K. Hamied, Chair of the Indian pharmaceutical company CIPLA, announced a package of assistance to African countries to facilitate the local production of medicines in Africa.
UNAIDS and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) released a final report on the progress made since the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive was launched at the last United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS, in 2011.
There has been a 60% decline in new HIV infections among children since 2009 in the 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have been most affected by the epidemic. To build on the enormous progress made in stopping new HIV infections among children, UNAIDS, PEPFAR and partners released a framework for ending AIDS among children, adolescents and young women—Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS-Free. The initiative sets ambitious targets to eliminate new infections among children, ensure access to treatment for all children living with HIV and prevent new HIV infections among adolescents and young women in order to put the world on a path to ending the AIDS epidemic among young women, adolescents and children.
Armenia, Belarus and Thailand joined Cuba in receiving official certificates of validation from the World Health Organization for eliminating new HIV infections among children. Thailand is the first country with a major HIV epidemic (450 000 people living with HIV in 2014) to receive such validation.
Events were held on the wider health agenda, including learning the lessons learned from responding to emerging epidemics, such as AIDS, Ebola and Zika, and on empowering adolescent girls and young women to access integrated health-care services, which was organized by the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS.
During the week of the meeting, several supporting events took place across New York. The Mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, and the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, convened around 30 mayors at the New York City Public Library to discuss how they are getting on the Fast-Track to end AIDS in cities. They also shared how smart cities are implementing urban innovations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
In partnership with the Xinhua news agency, a billboard showcasing the UNAIDS Fast-Track response to ending AIDS ran in the city’s iconic Times Square. There was also an interfaith service and a number of events that focused on the importance of women’s involvement in leadership roles in the AIDS response.
On the eve of the High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, fashion designer and amfAR chair Kenneth Cole was named as an International Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS. UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Annie Lennox took part in events throughout the week.
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