Feature story

UNAIDS Executive Director addresses AIDS leaders on Capitol Hill

02 May 2014

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, delivered a keynote speech at The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) Capitol Hill Conference “Making AIDS History: From Science to Solutions”. The conference gathered leading government, research, policy and advocacy experts in Washington DC to build on the enormous progress seen in the response to HIV and chart a roadmap for ending the AIDS epidemic.

“We have made tremendous progress—but there is still so much to do,” said Ambassador Deborah Birx, Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator of United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS. “We are at a critical moment in time—where we can redefine the trajectory of this epidemic.”

In his remarks, Mr. Sidibé highlighted how the AIDS response has served as a catalyst for transforming the financing paradigm for global health and development. “The AIDS response has enabled us to change the paradigm of development financing,” said Mr Sidibé. “Today, we are moving even further to help countries implement investment frameworks that will maximize the impact of every dollar.”

He also called for continued, strong support from the US government. “If we don’t have the courage and bold leadership to ensure everyone has access to lifesaving services—including the key populations of young girls and women, men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs, prisoner and migrants—we will not be able to end this epidemic,” said Mr Sidibé.

At the conference, amfAR board Chair fashion designer Kenneth Cole announced amfAR’s “Countdown to a Cure”—a new initiative designed to raise an additional US$ 100 million for AIDS cure research. “I’ve been involved in AIDS activism for almost 30 years now, and I’ve never seen so much optimism in the world of AIDS research. We are closer to a cure for HIV than ever before because we have learned so much in the past few years,” said Mr Cole. “But we must remain relentless in our commitment to do whatever has to be done with whatever resources are available to support all efforts needed to find a vaccine and a cure.”

Other speakers at the conference included: Douglas Brooks, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy; Paul Farmer, Co-founder of Partners in Health and Chair of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine; Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health; Gabriela Isler, Miss Universe 2013; World Bank President Jim Kim and various members of the US Congress.