New York

08 June 2015

Secretary-General's message to annual General Assembly Review of HIV/AIDS

Four years ago, Heads of State agreed an ambitious set of targets to halt and reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS by the end of 2015.  This review comes at an important time as we approach the Millennium Development Goals deadline.  I am pleased to note the tremendous progress that has saved millions of lives and positioned us to end the AIDS epidemic as a public-health threat by 2030. 

Between 2001 and 2013, there was a 38 per cent reduction in new infections and between 2005 and 2013 there was a 35 per cent decline in AIDS-related deaths.  The world is on track to meet some of the 10 priority targets and commitments from the 2011 Political Declaration, such as expanding treatment access, mobilizing resources, and eliminating HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive.  We are on track to eliminating mother-to-child transmission and providing life-saving antiretroviral therapy to 15 million people by 2015.  Since 1995, ART has averted 7.6 million deaths globally.

But we are behind on other targets.  Despite overall gains in reducing sexual transmission of HIV, progress is not even and the target of a 50 per cent reduction in sexual transmission is likely to be missed.  In Central Asia and Eastern Europe, new infections rose by 5 per cent between 2005 and 2013 and in the Middle East and North Africa new infections among adults rose by 31 per cent. 

Around 40 per cent of all new HIV infections among adults worldwide occur among people from key populations and their intimate partners.  A range of social and structural barriers are preventing access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care services.  Women are experiencing higher HIV transmission rates than men in many countries.  Punitive legal frameworks marginalize certain groups, creating barriers to accessing HIV services and sexual and reproductive health and rights, leading to increased transmission.

The success of the AIDS response in the post-2015 era hinges on the response being fully funded.  Countries should be encouraged to increase their domestic funding in line with their epidemic and economic status.  I am pleased at the efforts countries are making to share responsibility and ownership for their epidemics.  Domestic spending on HIV now accounts for more than half of global HIV resources.  Between 2006 and 2013, some 75 low- and middle-income countries increased their domestic investments in AIDS by more than 50 per cent.  As we prepare for the third Financing for Development Conference in Addis, this is an excellent example of national leadership and ownership.

As we move into the post 2015 era, we cannot fail the people who need our help the most: the marginalized and those whose human rights are denied because of how they live and who they love.  Young people and their rights need to be fully integrated.  So do women and girls, who face violence, whether in conflict or peaceful settings.  I am particularly concerned with the emergence of new efforts to criminalize certain key populations, such as LGBTI, sex workers and people who inject drugs.  This not only violates human rights, but drives people away from essential services.  Human rights and access to health care are for all people and not just for some.

The HIV response now needs to develop new targets to drive progress, to reaffirm and renew political commitments, and to ensure accountability towards the achievement of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.  A strong focus on AIDS should continue into the post-2015 era, to preserve and build on current gains and realize the opportunity of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.  This includes ensuring that links with the AIDS response are promoted across the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, particularly in poverty reduction, employment creation and the empowerment of women and girls.

The UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, due to be convened in 2016, offers an opportunity to strengthen global resolve and intensify strategic efforts to bring the epidemic to an end.  There is global consensus that the tools exist to make ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 a possibility.  The next five years provide a vital window of opportunity to achieve this goal.  However, uneven progress, continued stigma and discrimination, gender inequality, punitive laws, insufficient and unstable funding and lack of adequately targeted HIV prevention, treatment and care for key populations mean many are being left behind.  There is no room for complacency.  If the global community fails to tailor its response to address need where it is most acute, the epidemic is in danger of coming back stronger than ever.

We can be proud of what we have been able to achieve in the last 15 years.  We have the knowledge, resources, tools and capacity to end AIDS in the next 15.  I call on you to make this ambition a reality.