|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
‘We Cannot Slow Down’ Effort to Give All People HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment
Services, in Drive towards 2015, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the General Assembly meeting on HIV/AIDS, in New York, 11 June:
One year ago this week, the international community met here at the United Nations to advance the struggle against HIV/AIDS. In the General Assembly and the Security Council, in the hallways and the side events, Governments, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations agencies, philanthropists and even rock stars came together. These powerful partners demanded progress and pledged their best efforts to reach our goal of an AIDS-free world.
In this Hall, participants at the high-level meeting pledged to show decisive, inclusive and accountable leadership. Their bold political declaration had clear targets to stop new infections, stamp out discrimination, and end AIDS-related deaths.
Last year marked the thirtieth anniversary of struggle against AIDS — but we were not looking back; we were looking to a future where all people get the prevention and treatment services they need.
Over the past year, we have steadily intensified our efforts. Just last week, I helped to launch the Integrated Implementation Framework to track commitments to the Millennium Development Goals, including on HIV/AIDS. UN-Women recently joined UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) to buttress our efforts to address how the virus impacts women and girls. And when I launched my five-year action agenda in January, I pledged to reach our goal of ending all paediatric HIV infections.
You in this room have carried the AIDS response forward through dedication and hard work. I am here to ask you to do even more so that we can win the race. Prevention is critical. We have to cut the number of new HIV infections by 1 million by 2015. We can only reach that goal if we reach out to people at risk: sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, women and youth.
Five million young people live with HIV. Each day, 3,000 more are infected. Yet it is within our power to stop this spread. Young people are receptive to changing their behaviours. With the right information, they will do what is right for their health.
Last year’s Political Declaration pledged treatment for 15 million people by 2015. That means doubling the number who now get treatment. We need to diagnose patients more quickly, provide therapies more efficiently, and develop better medicines. Women and children deserve special attention. Women need sexual and reproductive health services, and HIV-positive mothers must have antiretroviral drugs so their babies will be born HIV-free. Countries should support the Global Plan to Eliminate New HIV Infections among Children by 2015 and Keep Their Mothers Alive. This Plan can quickly deliver the results we need for the Every Woman, Every Child initiative. Both are generating real commitments from Governments, health experts, activists, business executives and other partners.
During our high-level meeting last year, you may have seen posters around the United Nations warning about an epidemic. These dramatic posters said: “Stigma Fuels HIV”. The point was not to cause alarm — the point was to provoke change. I speak out against stigma every chance I get. Discrimination hampers our efforts to respond to the AIDS epidemic by making it difficult for people to seek prevention and treatment services. I am also urging all countries to end restrictions and penalties for people living with HIV. And I am doing everything possible to make the United Nations a model workforce where there is absolutely no stigma at all.
All of this work — ending stigma and discrimination, helping to address the special needs of women and youth, and reaching our targets for 2015 — requires funds. However, international investments for AIDS dropped by 13 per cent from 2009 to 2010.
Now that we drive towards 2015, we cannot slow down. All countries must do their part. We must strengthen existing financial mechanisms, including the Global Fund, even as we search for new sources of sustainable financing. We need to mobilize new funds and make the most of all resources. This will help advance the goals of sustainable development.
An AIDS-free generation is a generation that can help to end poverty. As we approach the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, let us pledge to make the struggle against AIDS an integral part of our campaign for the future we want. Thank you very much.
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