Message of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director, for World AIDS Day, 1 December 2014
Today, on World AIDS Day, I join every person around the world who believes the next generation should be free of HIV and AIDS.
More than 30 years into the epidemic, we have moved beyond the early devastation wreaked by AIDS and scored many successes.
Over the past three years, the rate of new HIV infections has dropped by 13 per cent.
Of the estimated 35 million people living with HIV in the world, over 13 million are now receiving treatment.
AIDS-related deaths are at their lowest level since the peak in 2005, down by 35 per cent.
Now, we need to do more. We must close the gap by 2030, so that every person has access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and no person is left behind.
Today, the gaps are many. In Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Arab States and North Africa, the number of new HIV infections continues to rise.
Around the world, many groups, including people who inject drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender people, remain at high risk, often with limited access to HIV prevention and treatment services.
Particularly vulnerable are adolescent girls and young people living with HIV, who lack access to life-saving interventions that meet their sexual and reproductive health needs.
Today, stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and key populations remain widespread. Globally, AIDS death rates have increased among adolescents. This must change.
Together, we must close the gap and protect the human rights and health of every human being. We must ensure that anyone at risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections has access to condoms.
We must continue to prevent HIV in pregnant women to keep mothers alive and eliminate HIV infections in infants.
We must offer rights-based family planning and treatment for women living with HIV to prevent unintended pregnancies and allow them to live healthy, fulfilling lives.
We must facilitate voluntary medical male circumcision in young men, particularly in settings with high HIV prevalence, to reduce their vulnerability to HIV throughout their lifetime.
We must increase community-led services to reduce HIV risk for key populations, and sustain access to treatment for people living with HIV to keep them healthy and reduce onward HIV transmission.
At UNFPA, we are taking action guided by the belief that no one should die of AIDS in this day and age.
No young person should lack the knowledge, skills and resources, including male and female condoms, to avoid HIV infection.
No young woman should be powerless to prevent exposure to HIV.
No one should be subjected to gender-based violence. No one should experience HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
UNFPA is taking action to advance universal sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and to protect people from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections through delivery of life-saving commodities, including male and female condoms.
We are partnering with networks of key populations and young people. We are building capacity for integrated delivery of maternal health, family planning and HIV services. We are supporting comprehensive sexuality education.
We are tackling stigma and discrimination and gender-based violence. And we are listening to and working directly with youth to ensure they receive the right information and services when, where and how they need them.
Today, on World AIDS Day, and every day, UNFPA will work to close the gap so that no person is left behind and we end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.