A year on from bold new HIV/AIDS strategy, accelerating progress is vital, say UN member states – World

A year after the adoption of a new Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: Ending Inequalities and Ending AIDS by 2030, United Nations member states have emphasized the need to work together to make progress in implementation speed up.

Prior to the meeting, the UN Secretary-General released a report entitled: Tackling inequality to end the AIDS pandemic on the implementation of the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. The report outlines how inequalities and under-investment are “leaving the world dangerously unprepared to face the pandemics of today and tomorrow”

The AIDS pandemic is responsible for more than 13,000 deaths each week.

Data from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) shows that HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are currently not declining fast enough to end the pandemic by 2030, as promised.

The Secretary-General’s report highlights solutions, including (a) HIV prevention and societal factors; (b) community-led responses; (c) equal access to medicines, vaccines and health technologies; d) sustainable financing of the fight against AIDS and broader pandemic prevention, preparedness and response; (e) people-centric data systems and (f) strengthening global partnerships.

The UN Secretary-General’s statement to the General Assembly, delivered by Cabinet Secretary Courtenay Rattray, outlined three immediate steps to reverse current trends and get back on track. “First, we need to address the intersecting inequalities, discrimination and marginalization of entire communities, which are often exacerbated by punitive laws, policies and practices.” He called for policy reforms to reduce the HIV risks of marginalized communities, including sex workers, injecters, inmates, transgender people and gay men. He noted how stigma hinders public health: “Stigmatization harms everyone. Social solidarity protects everyone”.

The second step is to share 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 tackle AIDS. “Investments in AIDS are investments in global health security. They save lives — and money.”

In his opening address, General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid noted that “equal access to health care is an essential human right to ensure public health for all. No one is safe until we are all safe.” is an opportunity to work together to invest more in public health systems and pandemic responses, and to draw on the lessons learned from the HIV/AIDS crisis for our recovery from COVID-19, and vice versa.”

More than 35 member states and observers made statements during the AIDS review, including contributions on behalf of the Africa Group, the Caribbean Community and the Central American Integration System and the European Union.

Statements emphasized the urgency of stepping up collective action to get on track to meet the 2025 goals, and the importance of a lens for inequalities to ensure a successful HIV response.

The President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General, the Africa Group, the EU and several Member States stressed the importance of fully funding the fight against HIV and strengthening investment in global health.

The Africa Group, along with many others, spoke about tackling stigma and discriminatory laws that prevent people from accessing health care and social services.

The debate made it clear that the end of AIDS is possible, but only if countries work together and show courage in tackling inequalities. “Today’s main message,” said the Secretary-General’s conclusion, “is that if we work together to tackle the inequalities that perpetuate HIV/AIDS, we can still end them by 2030 if a threat to public health.”

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