With Sustained Momentum, Ultimate Target Can Be Met of HIV-Free World, No More Discrimination, No AIDS-Related Deaths, Secretary-General Says in Nairobi

31 March 2011

With Sustained Momentum, Ultimate Target Can Be Met of HIV-Free World, No More Discrimination, No AIDS-Related Deaths, Secretary-General Says in Nairobi

31 March 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

With Sustained Momentum, Ultimate Target Can be Met of HIV-Free World, No More

Discrimination, No AIDS-Related Deaths, Secretary-General Says in Nairobi


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the launch of his report for the 2011 General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, in Nairobi, 31 March:

It is a great pleasure to take part in this very important event this morning on the occasion of my visit to Nairobi.  I am also very grateful and pleased to see [so many] senior officials of the United Nations system — Tony Lake of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Babatunde Osotimehin of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Yuri Fedotov of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the new Director-General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi, Sahle-Work Zewde, and also the Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, and Josette Sheeran of the World Food Programme (WFP).  It is very rare that such high senior officials are gathered in one place.  That means we are all united, showing strong solidarity of the United Nations working together with all of you.  And I thank you very much for such a strong leadership being demonstrated today.

Thirty years ago, AIDS was a death sentence.  Today, people are living and striving and thriving with HIV.  Thirty years ago, AIDS challenged us to deal with some of the most sensitive aspects of human behaviour, including reproduction and sexuality.  These were difficult issues to speak about, particularly in the case of women.  It is very difficult to talk about this issue itself.

Today women are not only at the forefront of our international campaign against HIV/AIDS.  They are at the heart of our global health and development efforts.  That is why I am so pleased to share the podium today with Rebecca Awiti.  I have just met her triplets — they are all beautiful, cute and full of hope.  They are sitting here together with us.  Hello!  They don’t recognize who I am!

Thirty years ago, AIDS sentenced people not only to death but also severe isolation, the stigma was so terrible.  Today, we still battle discrimination, but thanks to people like Ms. Awiti, more and more communities understand this disease.  They are accepting and embracing their HIV-positive friends and associates with love, not fear.  Thirty years ago, AIDS was a mysterious killer - merciless and unstoppable.  Today, we have specific, targeted interventions to reduce transmission, provide treatment, and research a vaccine.  This progress is the result of patient, unrelenting efforts by a broad partnership including governments, the medical community, activists and international organizations.

Ten years ago, the international community came together at the General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS and set targets for the year 2010.  Now it is time to take a hard look at where we stand, where we succeeded, and why.  That is why this year is another milestone in the campaign against HIV/AIDS.  This June, the General Assembly will convene a high-level meeting to review progress and renew our commitments.  My report summarizes the latest data and contains recommendations going forward.  I am providing the information and analysis in the hopes of energizing the preparations for the meeting.  We need to plan for the next decade, and beyond.

Ms. Awiti has three children, as I said, triplets.  She has her hands full.  She was able to prevent HIV transmission to Natalie, Lennox and Nicole.  And she is helping so many other expecting mothers protect their babies.  We are well on our way to an HIV-free generation.  But to get there, we need to do much more.  My report shows that each day, over 7,000 people are newly infected with HIV — every day — including 1,000 children.  That is two people newly infected for every one starting treatment.

In my report, I call for Member States to meet six clear goals by 2015:  first, reduce by half the sexual transmission of HIV; second, provide treatment to 13 million people; third, eliminate mother-to-child transmission; fourth, cut by half the number of tuberculosis deaths among people living with HIV; fifth, support children orphaned and affected by AIDS to stay in school and receive social protection; and sixth, cut by half the number of countries with HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay or residence.  On this sixth point, I think, during the last four years as Secretary-General I have achieved a great deal. I have had many countries lift their restrictions on people living with AIDS.

Our UNAIDS Executive Director, Mr. Sidibé, will now brief you on the details of the report.  He is always travelling to the frontlines, speaking with people affected by HIV, and bringing their concerns to the international community.  Right after this visit to Nairobi, he leaves for the United Republic of Tanzania to review the HIV/AIDS response on the ground.  He will meet with young people and visit clinics.  My Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, will be with him in Tanzania.  I look forward to the results.

If we keep this momentum going and reach our targets, we can meet the ultimate goal of a world with no new HIV infections, no more discrimination, and no AIDS-related deaths.  Thank you very much for your commitment.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.