Bridgetown, Barbados

03 July 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at launch of UNAIDS and Lancet Commission Report: Defeating AIDS - Advancing Global Health

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today we launch a major report produced by an impressive Commission.

Heads of State and health experts joined with people living with HIV, young people, activists and other partners to give us their best recommendations in Defeating AIDS – Advancing Global Health.

A quarter of a million people in this region live with HIV. The governments here struggle to finance their responses.

The epidemic is only made worse by punitive laws and stigma. These drive vulnerability to HIV infection – and block access to life-saving treatment.

Homophobia threatens both human rights and public health. We cannot tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, nor on the basis of gender identity. We must also defend the human rights of sex workers and of people who inject drugs.

This Report has four main messages.

First, we have the knowledge, tools and know-how to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The Commission spells out how to achieve this.

Second, we need to urgently increase and fully fund our AIDS response. Today the world invests $19 billion annually in addressing AIDS. To reach our targets, we need to almost double this amount. I am calling for a rapid scale-up – led by countries, with critical support from global and private partners – over the next five years so that we will be on track to end the epidemic by 2030.

Third, we must apply lessons learned from the AIDS response to other complex challenges.

Young people, women, gay activists and campaigners for equality drive progress. Activism pushes boundaries–to ensure access to affordable medicines, political influence and justice.

Fourth, we can leave no one behind. AIDS will only end when we protect the human rights of all.

This disease thrives on unjust power relations and inequalities. We have to battle all forms of societal ills including stigma, intolerance, discrimination and violence.

To end this epidemic, we need gender equality. We need to protect sexual and reproductive rights. And we need to give adolescents life-skills, including education about their sexuality.

AIDS is about more than human health – it is fundamentally an issue of human rights.

For the past 15 years, the world has been inspired by the Millennium Development Goals to act together against AIDS.

Now, we are forging new sustainable development goals.

Ending the AIDS epidemic – in all places and all communities – is essential to realizing our vision of a life of dignity for all.

And I thank you for your commitment.

Thank you very much.