AIDS and the sustainable development agenda: interdependent, inextricably linked

09 June 2016

Efforts to end the AIDS epidemic and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are closely linked and can lead to a wider, people-centred social transformation, argued a panel at the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, taking place in New York, United States of America, from 8 to 10 June. The panel meeting, entitled, “AIDS within the Sustainable Development Goals: leveraging the end of AIDS for social transformation and sustainable development,” was held on 8 June.

A number of participants noted that the lessons learned from the successes of the AIDS response at the national and global levels act as a pathfinder for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Agenda 2030), adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015. This response has shown that working in a multisectoral way, with a range of partners and with an eye to challenging social, economic and gender inequalities using rights-based approaches, can lead to both health and development gains. 

In setting out a Fast-Track approach to end AIDS, the UNAIDS 2016–2021 Strategy firmly acknowledges the need to root the HIV response in Agenda 2030, recognizing the interdependence between HIV and the SDGs, from ending poverty (SDG 1) to promoting inclusive societies (SDG 16) and strengthening partnerships (SDG 17).

During her remarks, the Russian Minister of Health, Veronika Skvortsova, committed to removing all remaining restrictions related to the travel, stay and entry of foreign citizens living with HIV in the Russian Federation.

The panel members set out concrete examples of how the AIDS response could help to influence the profound structural, social and economic changes needed to end AIDS and make the SDGs a reality: by promoting accountability, through grassroots alliances with communities acting as agents of change and by challenging inequality, stigma and marginalization and leaving no one behind.

The panel discussion generated a sense of urgency as well as momentum and opportunity to implement the Fast-Track approach in synergy and convergence with Agenda 2030, towards greater inclusion, social justice and stability across societies.


“We must seize the opportunity of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to change the course of our planet and our humanity. The SDGs weave together environmental, social and economic well-being into a single, integrated global framework. They provide stepping stones to deepen and strengthen our efforts to end the AIDS epidemic.”

Kwesi Amissah-Arthur Vice-President of Ghana

“I urge all of you to seize the opportunity to strengthen our efforts against AIDS by leveraging the synergies presented by the Sustainable Development Goals. Together, let us make the journey to end AIDS a journey of social transformation.”

Ratu Epeli Nailatikau former President of Fiji

“Today we have almost eliminated HIV transmission among people who use drugs through a comprehensive harm reduction programme. This was only possible through collaboration between health and police officers and through the inclusion of civil society.”

Tania Dussey-Cavassini State Secretary, Ambassador for Global Health of the Swiss Confederation

The Sustainable Development Goals provide a key opportunity to address the structural drivers that underlie the HIV epidemic. Ending AIDS is a feminist issue, giving young women and girls access to sexual health and rights education and services is integral to a sustainable HIV response.”

Will Niblett Department for International Development, United Kingdom