Following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ remarks at the General Assembly review of HIV/AIDs, in New York today:
I am pleased to be with you today. We are at the halfway point to the 2020 fast‑track commitments agreed by the General Assembly in 2016. The world is making good progress towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. More people have access to HIV testing and treatment. Access to antiretroviral therapy has expanded by more than 20 million people since 1990. As mother‑to‑child transmission continues to decline, and fewer children are living with HIV, we are moving closer to bringing about an AIDS‑free generation.
But progress is uneven and fragile. On all continents, key populations at higher risk of infection continue to be left further and further behind. And young women remain unacceptably vulnerable where prevalence is high. We must empower young people to protect themselves from HIV. This includes providing a full range of sexual and reproductive health services and rights, harm reduction for people who use drugs, and access to antiretroviral treatment for young people living with HIV.
Prevention is the key to breaking the cycle of HIV transmission. The Prevention 2020 road map focuses explicitly on adolescent girls, young women and key populations at risk. This sharpened focus on human rights, key populations and gender equality is essential. Greater leadership and investment must follow suit to remove the social and political barriers that keep so many beyond the reach of necessary services.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for an integrated approach to development challenges. Our efforts to end HIV are connected to other areas, such as malaria, tuberculosis, access to medicines and the increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance. Success will require us to strengthen links across these areas and build resilient and sustainable systems for health, underpinned by principles of human rights and equity.
This year’s high‑level meetings of the General Assembly on tuberculosis and non‑communicable diseases, as the President just mentioned, are key opportunities to inform a new way of thinking and working that moves beyond the disease‑specific silos of yesterday. Let us also look ahead to the 2019 high‑level meeting on universal health coverage to build coherence across the global health landscape on financing, programming and accountability. The progress towards ending this epidemic would not have been possible without forceful advocacy, solidarity and a spirit of shared responsibility. We must maintain this spirit.
This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of one of the most significant commitments to ending the AIDS epidemic: the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. We commend the United States of America for its steadfast and generous commitment. Next month, scientists and advocates from around the world — many of whom are with us today — will gather in Amsterdam for the twenty‑second International AIDS Conference.
From the beginning of the global response, this intersection of science and advocacy has helped to shape policy and expand access to rights‑based treatment and support for millions around the world. At this pivotal moment, we must renew our focus and shared commitment to a world free of AIDS. The pandemic is not over, but it can be. We must all do our part. Let us move forward in a bold new spirit of partnership to overcome the cycle of HIV transmission and deliver health and well‑being for all.