Press statement

President of Botswana visits UNAIDS and calls for a united, efficient partnership for setting regional HIV priorities

UNAIDS’ unwavering commitment praised by the President

GENEVA, 25 October 2018—The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi, visited UNAIDS headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on 25 October 2018 to share Botswana’s vision on a key public health concern: HIV.

The President met the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, and congratulated UNAIDS for leading the AIDS agenda with humility and professionalism. 

“We continue to count on your stewardship,” said Mr Masisi. “Botswana stands ready to sprint the last mile to end AIDS as a public health threat.”

Two decades ago, AIDS ravaged the small southern African nation of 2 million. Today, despite having one of the highest rates of HIV in the world – 23% of adults live with HIV- Botswana has shown remarkable progress. New HIV infections have been reduced by 63% since the peak in 1996 and AIDS-related deaths have decreased to 4100 from 15 000 in 2008. It was the first country in the region to provide universal, free antiretroviral treatment to people living with HIV, paving the way for many other countries in the region to follow.

Mr Sidibé described the President as an advocate for the region. “Mr Masisi is bringing new energy and impetus to the AIDS response in Botswana with a focus on HIV prevention,” said Mr Sidibé. The President participated in a moderated dialogue along with a high-level delegation that included the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation and the Minister of Health and Wellbeing as well as the First Lady of Botswana. During the discussions, the President described Botswana’s financial investments in health, HIV and its people.  He highlighted that mother-to-child HIV transmission is on the verge of being eliminated and that more than 80% of people living with HIV are on treatment.

However, challenges remain. “When you disempower a young girl through violence or unwanted sexual experience, she is affected for life,” Mr Masisi said. In order to curtail new HIV infections, the President committed to redefining the roles and engagement of young boys and men. Mr Masisi and Mr Sidibé then recognized former President Festus Mogae’s long-standing efforts to turn the country around from despair to hope when Botswana faced the HIV crisis initially.  


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


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