Distinguished jurists, friends and colleagues, I am extremely honoured to be here today. I appreciate the valuable time you have carved out from your demanding schedules to discuss the role of the judiciary in the HIV epidemic. This is a testament to your deep commitment to confronting this major challenge of our time.
Mr Chairman, Vice-chair, honourable ministers and ambassadors, delegates: Good morning and thank you for joining the 25th meeting of the Programme Coordinating Board. A special thank you to my friend Tedros, who so capably chaired both our Board and that of the Global Fund.
BY: Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS DATE: 01 December, 2009 PLACE: Pretoria Showgrounds, Pretoria, South Africa OCCASION: Commemoration of World AIDS Day South Africa’s Reinvigorated AIDS Response
On this World AIDS Day we are filled with both hope and concern. Hope because significant progress has been made towards universal access. New HIV infections have dropped. Fewer children are born with HIV. And more than 4 million people are on treatment.
Where is the world HIV epidemic today? Like Winston Churchill said in 1942, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”. Today, over 33 million people worldwide live with HIV. 7,400 people are newly infected every day. For every 2 persons who are placed on antiretroviral treatment, 5 people are newly infected. 2 million people still die of AIDS every year. We have yet to break the trajectory of the epidemic.
This is an exciting time to be among AIDS vaccine researchers—even more exciting than I anticipated when I accepted the invitation months ago.We have witnessed a significant moment in the AIDS field with the announcement of the results of the Phase III trial in Thailand of a combination HIV vaccine candidate. As you know, the results presented thus far from the Thai trial are modest. Yet that the results are not conclusive is to miss the point—the point is that they provide much needed hope to the scientific community.
My friends, who could fail to care about the human consequences of HIV? The most recent data published with our Cosponsors makes for somber reading. Despite tremendous progress with treatment access, we are not there yet. For every person newly on treatment, three more people are newly infected with HIV.The Church’s uncompromising position on the need for social justice—to do what is right— and on the inherent dignity of individuals, inspires us to champion for universal access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support as a moral imperative.
HIV in the Eastern Mediterranean region: Facing challenges; creating opportunities. EMRO is home to well over one half million people living with HIV. The bulk of infections are concentrated among men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and people who sell sex. These are people who tend to suffer major stigma and discrimination. Not surprisingly HIV remains a highly stigmatized health condition.
I want to thank the organizers and particularly Latida Smith for the invitation to spend some time with you today. I'd like to make sure you know the UNAIDS Washington team, Pauline Muchina, Greg Smiley and John Hassell—who I want to thank for connecting us. Most importantly, I want to thank each of you all for the difference that you make to the AIDS response.
I thank Chairman Howard Berman and Congresswoman Barbara Lee for their leadership on this issue. I would also like to thank the “MSM Policy Working Group” of the Global AIDS Roundtable for organizing this Forum and inviting me to say a few words. I am honoured to share the platform with my good friend Ambassador Eric Goosby, who brings extensive experience working with the gay community’s early response to the epidemic and San Francisco and to all of you working on the front lines.
AIDS as Health, Dignity and Security: A New Paradigm for the Future of the Global Response. Dear friends and colleagues, it is a privilege to deliver my first speech in Washington among friends and colleagues here at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
If there is one lesson that this experience has taught me—it is the overriding need to strengthen health systems across our continent. It is my hope and aspiration, that the AIDS response will help lead the way.
I deeply regret not being with you at this momentous event which brings more than 2,500 people together with a common goal—to end AIDS. Momentous because it takes place when we are at a cross-roads of the AIDS response.