Side Event on “Investing to accelerate the AIDS response and leveraging synergies to get on track to end the AIDS pandemic, improve health and achieve the SDGs”
I am very honored to be able to add a few reflections on where we stand in our collective fight to end HIV/AIDS, especially as Germany is currently holding the chair of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board.
Many of us met a few months ago in this very room on World Aids Day 2022. It was a moment to commemorate all of those who fell victim to this curse and to honor those who committed their life to fighting HIV/AIDS. It was also moment to remind ourselves how much we collectively have achieved in turning the tide. However, we also all agreed that despite the remarkable progress made in the last two decades, there is no moment for complacency. The job is not done.1.5 million people get infected with HIV every single year and 650.00 people die because of AIDS every single year.
Crucially, progress remains fragile, reversible and sensitive to external shocks such as COVID 19.The latest report of the Secretary General on the Implementation of the 2021 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS is very clear in this regard. The report illustrates how quickly our progress of the last years can be lost unless we do not respond now, and respond decisively.
However, there is good news, too. We have a convincing collective strategy. We know what it needs to be successful and reach our collective target of eradicating HIV/AIDS by 2030. A lot a has already been outline by Ambassador Gertze. I will just highlight a few crucial elements of success.
Prevention and education. Here empowerment of women and girls remains key. Education in general, knowledge about a disease and its ways of transmission in particular, reduces the risk of infection. Education is also is key for tackling gender inequality; being the driver for the increased vulnerability of women and girls to HIV. We know well that with every additional school year, the risk of a girl being infected with HIV decreases significantly.
The role of communities and local organizations. Governments remain the first line of the HIV/AIDS response but we must place communities at the center of our strategy, for prevention as well as treatment.
Finally, we must reach those who are most at risk, the most vulnerable groups: the LGBTIQ community, people who use drugs, sex workers, prisoners. These key groups continue, way too often, to be discriminated by law, by negligence or social stigmatization. Discrimination increases the risk of infection. We must give them a voice in our collective response. They must have access to prevention and treatment if we want to be collectively successful.
At national level we all need to address these key components of a successful strategy, adjust them to social realities in a post-CONID world. And it is safe to say, we, all the member states, have our homework to do.
But we also have to think how we can boost our collective response in times of crisis and financial austerity.
If we want to be successful with our AIDS response, the response must be multi-sectoral, based on an efficient, a strengthened primary health care system and universal health care coverage. In addition, we must use rare financial resources in the most efficient way possible.
This year we have a unique opportunity to create synergies as well as the necessary resource mobilization with the upcoming SDG Summit and the three High-Level-Meetings on health (TB, UHC, PPPR “pandemic prevention, preparedness and response”). A dynamism that can be followed up with next year’s SOTF (that NAM and GER are co-facilitating).
All these processes are closely linked to HIV/AIDS. I am really looking forward to today’s discussion on how we can make best use of these important processes for our collective goal, SDG 3.3, ending HIV/AIDS by 2030.
Lastly, I am very happy to remind you all that Germany will be hosting the 25th International AIDS Conference in Munich in July 2024 - to which I would like to welcome you all.