A year after adopting a new Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, UN Member States have underscored the need to work together to accelerate progress in implementation.
Ahead of a UN General Assembly meeting on the issue this week, the UN Secretary-General released a report titled Tackling Inequalities to End the AIDS Pandemic on the implementation of this declaration. Politics.
The report explains how inequality and insufficient investment “leave the world dangerously ill-prepared to face the pandemics of today and tomorrow”.
The AIDS pandemic is responsible for more than 13,000 deaths every week, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said in a press release.
UNAIDS data shows that HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are currently not declining fast enough to end the pandemic by 2030 as promised.
Three immediate measures
The UN Secretary-General’s statement to the General Assembly, delivered by Chief of Staff Courtenay Rattray, outlined three immediate steps to reverse current trends and get back on track.
“First, we must address intersecting inequalities, discrimination and the marginalization of entire communities, which are often exacerbated by punitive laws, policies and practices,” he said.
He called for policy reforms to reduce the HIV risks of marginalized communities, including sex workers, injecting drug users, prisoners, transgender people and gay men. He noted how stigma hampers public health. “Stigma hurts everyone. Social solidarity protects everyone,” he stressed.
The second step is to ensure the sharing of health technologies, including long-acting antiretrovirals, to make them available to people in all countries of the world.
The third step is to increase the resources made available to fight AIDS. “Investments in the fight against AIDS are investments in global health security. They save lives – and money,” Mr. Rattray said on behalf of the UN chief.
Equal access, a human right
In his opening address, the President of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, noted for his part that “equal access to health care is an essential human right to guarantee public health, for all”. “No one is safe until we all are. Striving to meet the 2025 AIDS targets is an opportunity to work together to scale up investments in public health systems and pandemic responses, and learn from the hard-learned lessons of the HIV crisis /AIDS for our recovery from Covid-19, and vice versa”.
Over 35 member and observer states made statements during the General Assembly meeting, including contributions on behalf of the African Group, the Caribbean Community and the Central American Integration System and the European Union.
Statements highlighted the urgency of scaling up collective action to get on track to meet the 2025 goals, and the importance of focusing on inequalities to ensure a successful response to HIV.
The President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General, the Africa Group, the European Union and several Member States stressed the importance of fully funding the response to HIV and strengthening investments in global health.
The Africa Group, along with many others, spoke about the fight against stigma and discriminatory laws that prevent people from accessing health care and social services.
The debate made it clear that ending AIDS is possible, but only if countries work together and show courage to tackle inequalities, according to UNAIDS. “The most important message today,” noted the Secretary-General’s conclusion, “is that if we work together to address the inequalities that perpetuate HIV/AIDS, we can still end it as a threat to public health by 2030”.