Feature story

One year into the bold new strategy on HIV/AIDS, it is vital to speed up progress, say UN Member States

10 June 2022

One year after adopting a new Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: Ending Inequalities and Getting on Track to End AIDS by 2030, United Nation’s Member States have highlighted the need to work together to speed up progress on implementation.

In advance of the meeting, the UN Secretary General released a report entitled Tackling inequalities to end the AIDS pandemic on the implementation of the political declaration on HIV/AIDS. The report sets out how inequalities and insufficient investment “leave the world dangerously underprepared to confront the pandemics of today and tomorrow”

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

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) data show that HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are not currently declining fast enough to end the pandemic by 2030 as pledged.

The Secretary General’s report highlights solutions including (a) HIV prevention and societal enablers; (b) community-led responses; (c) equitable access to medicines, vaccines and health technologies; (d) sustainable financing for the AIDS response and wider pandemic prevention, preparedness and response; (e) people-centered data systems and (f) strengthening global partnerships.

The UN Secretary General’s statement to the General Assembly, delivered by Chef de Cabinet Courtenay Rattray, outlined three immediate steps to reverse current trends and get back on track. “First, we need to tackle intersecting inequalities, discrimination and the 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 marginalised communities including sex workers, people who inject drugs, prisoners, transgender people and gay men. He noted how stigma is obstructing public health: “Stigmatization hurts everyone. Social solidarity protects everyone”.

The second step is ensuring the sharing of 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 remarks, the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Abdulla Shahid, noted that “equal access to healthcare is an essential human right to guarantee public health, for all. No one is safe until we are all safe. Striving to achieve the 2025 AIDS targets is an opportunity to work together to increase investments towards public health systems and pandemic responses, and to draw on the hard-learnt lessons from the HIV/AIDS crisis for our recovery from COVID-19, and vice versa.”

Over 35 Member States and Observers made statements during the AIDS review, which included contributions on behalf of the Africa Group, the Caribbean Community and the Central American Integration System and the European Union.

Statements emphasised the urgency of stepping up collective action to get on track to meet the 2025 targets, and the importance of an inequalities lens 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 financing the HIV response and strengthening investment in Global Health.

The Africa Group, along with many others, spoke about addressing stigma and discriminatory laws which keep people from accessing health care and social services.

The debate made clear that the end of AIDS is possible, but only if countries worked together and were courageous in addressing inequalities. “The most important message today,” noted the Secretary General’s conclusion, “is that if we work together to tackle the inequalities that perpetuate HIV/AIDS, we can still end it as a public health threat by 2030.”

Secretary General's report to the General Assembly

Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: Ending Inequalities and Getting on Track to End AIDS by 2030