(Check against delivery)
Excellencies, distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are deeply concerned that in 2021, 40 years after the first cases were reported, AIDS still remains a global emergency, affecting every region of the world and having claimed 36.3 million lives so far. At the end of 2020, it was also estimated that more than 37 million people were currently living with HIV. It is troubling that even after all this time, AIDS remains a paramount health, development, human rights and social challenge.
The world is not on track to end AIDS by 2030, as we set out to do in SDG target 3.3. But while we do have all the tools that are necessary, structural inequalities still hinder solutions to prevent and treat HIV. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional setbacks and pushed the AIDS response further off track. It is therefore more important than ever to end existing inequalities and invest in strong and inclusive health systems. In this regard, we welcome the adoption of the Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026 and the Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS in June this year.
This year marks more than one important milestone in the global fight against HIV and AIDS. Not only has it been twenty years since the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS, which was the first time an UNGASS was held on a health issue. We also had the opportunity to celebrate the 25-year-anniversary of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. And 25 years after its establishment, it still remains a unique multi-stakeholder and multisectoral programme to lead the efforts of the United Nations system and work with partners such as the Global Fund against the global AIDS epidemic. We need to ensure sustained financing in order to end AIDS by 2030.
We remain highly committed to achieve the goals and to transform these commitments into actions. We continue to support and contribute to more knowledge and expertise to end AIDS, so that we can provide health for all humans as a global public good.
On this World AIDS Day, we would also like to honour the vital and varied contributions that communities around the world continue to make to the HIV response. This is a crucial lesson, not only in regard to the AIDS epidemic, but for the response to COVID-19 as well as all future pandemics.