– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Mrs. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly

3 June 2019

Esteemed Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet of the United Nations Secretary General,

Esteemed Gunilla Carlsson, Executive Deputy Director of UNAIDS,

Distinguished Permanent Representatives, Delegates:

In the beginning, the AIDS epidemic was marked by despair, fear and exclusion. Today, however, thanks to the exceptional collective action that has been undertaken globally, we can affirm that its end is within our reach.

I would like to highlight the fundamental role of the General Assembly in maintaining the focus of the international attention on the commitment to fight HIV/AIDS, by means of establishing objectives and following-up on them, including the Sustainable Development Agenda where we promised to eradicate the epidemic by 2030.

I thank the Secretary General for the Report he has presented us with, it will be very useful for our deliberations.


The vast achievements in the HIV/AIDS response in the last decades, under the sound leadership of UNAIDS, is one of the best examples of multilateralism at work. It is a sample of what we can achieve when we unite together around a common cause.

Thanks to those collective efforts, what was a “death sentence” not so long ago, has become a chronic disease when the person has access to anti-retroviral therapy. In 2017, a record number of 21,7 million people who live with HIV received anti-retroviral therapy, that is, five and a half more people than ten years ago.

We have also achieved preventing children from being born with HIV, when their mothers have access to the necessary prophylaxis. In fact, the number of countries that have eliminated the mother-to-child transmission of the virus is continuously increasing.

These notable results have made a critical difference in the lives of millions of men, women and children. However, there is no room for complacency; we must not let our guard down. Quite the contrary, this is the right moment to intensify our efforts to meet the goals we agreed, especially considering that the progress is uneven in all countries and regions and many may very well be unable to meet the 2020 targets established in the 2016 Political Declaration, which would also impact meeting the SDGs.


In order to win the AIDS battle, we must meet the 90-90-90 targets, improving access to HIV detection tests and anti-retroviral therapy.

We must also launch specific initiatives to ensure that the key population groups that are especially vulnerable to HIV have access to integral services to prevent and treat the virus. We cannot end the AIDS epidemic if these persons continue to be stigmatized, discriminated and disregarded.

We must empower all persons and communities so they can protect themselves from HIV and mitigate its impact for those who contract it. This involves guaranteeing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, providing comprehensive education to young people and sexual and reproductive health services, eliminating gender violence and the regulatory and structural barriers that prevent access to HIV-related services.

Indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees must be included in the efforts to stop the epidemic. Turning the commitment of not leaving anyone behind into a reality also depends on this.

Having access to the new technologies and the most innovative and effective prevention and treatment tools for countries is crucial.

The vast achievements in the HIV/AIDS response in the last decades, under the sound leadership of UNAIDS, is one of the best examples of multilateralism at work. It is a sample of what we can achieve when we unite together around a common cause.

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

President of the UN General Assembly

We must continue to strengthen the strategic association between Governments, international organizations, the private sector, the academic sector, civil society and people who live with HIV/AIDS.

And, of course, closing financing gaps is essential. We need a stronger commitment from donors and mobilizing national resources to reach the investment goal for 2020. The upcoming Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which will take place in October at Lyon, France, will be decisive to rekindle our efforts and guarantee adequate and necessary funds for the next years.

Likewise, I would like to mention the direct relationship of this topic with the next high level meeting of the General Assembly on Universal Health Coverage, which is a significant occasion to enhance and capitalize on the efforts mad. We must do our best to ensure that the HIV-related services are included in the integral comprehensive health benefit package.


We are still on time to take the urgent and necessary measures that will allow us to fulfill the promise of achieving an AIDS-free world by 2030.

To continue advancing on this path we owe it to the millions of persons that we could not save, and it is the best legacy that we can offer for the generations that will come.

Thank you.