Press statement

On World AIDS Day, UNAIDS, the European Union and partners call for an end to HIV-related stigma and discrimination

BRUSSELS, 1 December 2023—On World AIDS Day, UNAIDS, Spain, as President of the Council of the European Union, and other partners called for the elimination of all HIV-related stigma and discrimination as a necessary step towards ending the AIDS pandemic as a global public health threat by 2030.

Speaking at the event held at the European Parliament in Brussels, Spain’s Minister of Health, Mónica García, re-affirmed Spain’s commitment to achieve zero HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

“We hope that this leadership of Spain for the elimination of all forms of stigma and discrimination associated with HIV will be maintained over the next 7 years to meet our goals by 2030,” said Ms Garcia.

The elimination of HIV-related stigma and discrimination has been a political priority of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union since July 2023. This was reflected in a high-level meeting on "HIV and Human Rights: Political Action to Achieve Zero Stigma" hosted by the Spanish Ministry of Health in September 2023 in Seville. At the event, Spain took the important step to officially join the Global Partnership for action to eliminate all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination, becoming the second EU country to join after Luxembourg.

At the event in Brussels, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Christine Stegling, thanked Spain for its leadership globally and in the European Union and said the world needed to act urgently to eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

“We’ve made impressive progress against HIV, but we have much work left to do,” said Ms Stegling, “Unless we succeed in ending AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, we will not be able to reach everyone in need. Stigma and discrimination against people most affected by HIV are the biggest barriers to accessing lifesaving HIV prevention and care. We look forward to working with European Union Member States, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, to take this agenda forward." 

As Spain steps down from its Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the end of December 2023 and as Belgium assumes the role, Ms. Stegling also expressed hope that Belgium will follow in Spain’s footsteps and continue to lead on this critical issue. She called on the whole of the European Union to join in global efforts to abolish AIDS-related stigma and discrimination to reach people who are currently being left behind in the response.

Around the world, some 9.2 million people living with HIV still do not have access to life-saving medicines. Every minute, a life is lost to AIDS. In 2022, 1.3 million people became newly infected with HIV. Many people most affected by HIV are being left behind, including adolescent girls and young women, gay men and men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers and migrants. These are the people who must be reached for AIDS to be ended as a public health threat by 2030.

Removing AIDS-related stigma, discrimination and criminalization will make it more possible to reach those currently being left behind. Political leadership in the European Union is key to achieving that goal.

Also critical for removing AIDS-related stigma and discrimination is community leadership. Ms. Stegling highlighted UNAIDS’ 2023 World AIDS Day report “Let Communities Lead” citing the need for governments and donors to fully empower and fund community leadership in the response to HIV.

Other speakers at the event included: Andrea Ammon, Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control; Peter Sands, the Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization's Regional Director for Europe and Kathleen van Brempt, MEP of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.  

The World AIDS Day event was co-hosted and moderated by Marc Angel, MEP from Luxembourg and vice-president of the European Parliament.  He said, “Representing my country, I extend my deepest appreciation to Spain for joining the Global Partnership for action to eliminate all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination. As a UNAIDS Red Ribbon Leader for the “10-10-10" targets on societal enablers, I look forward to working closely with Spain, my own country, Luxembourg and, ideally, other EU Member States to end all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination in the EU, across Europe and beyond.”

The 10-10-10 targets are:

  • Less than 10% of countries have punitive legal and policy environments that deny access to justice
  • Less than 10% of people living with HIV and key populations experience stigma and discrimination
  • Less than 10% of women, girls, people living with HIV and key populations experience gender inequality and violence.


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.


Michael Hollingdale
tel. +41 79 500 2119

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