Remarks at a UN General Assembly Meeting on Agenda Item 10: Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declarations

Ambassador Deborah L Birx
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator & U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy
New York City
June 12, 2018


Mr. President, your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the United States commends UNAIDS, the Global Fund, and partner governments on the tremendous progress outlined in the Secretary-General’s report on the Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declarations on HIV/AIDS, and applauds the President, Secretary-General and the Africa group for its strong statements noting the key groups affected.

At the halfway point to the 2020 fast-track goals we set together in 2016, we are closer than ever to controlling this pandemic. What once seemed impossible is now possible through the power of partnership and being strategic and targeted in our collective approach. To this end, the United States collaborates with partner governments, the private sector, philanthropic organizations, multilateral institutions, civil society, and, importantly, faith-based organizations. The United States ensures strong investments in prevention and treatment, investing nearly $1 billion a year on prevention, including $200 million a year to DREAMS.

Working together, we have saved and improved millions of lives and are changing the very course of the AIDS epidemic through the rapid acceleration of HIV prevention and treatment efforts. To help reach the 90-90-90 global targets, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, uses data to focus on the geographic areas and populations with the greatest need, where we can have the most impact with our investments. The 90-90-90 targets will only be reached when they are attained for every gender, age group, and at-risk group, including neglected and harder-to-reach populations. We know precisely who we are missing and are evolving our program to reach everyone through strengthening the health system at the community and facility level that welcomes everyone. PEPFAR has invested billions in the health system, in a non-vertical, horizontal manner from the beginning

UNAIDS’ focus on producing the world’s most extensive data collection on HIV epidemiology, or “AIDS Data” as it is known, continues to be fundamentally important. We have concrete targets to meet in order to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, SDG 3, and we cannot do it without the right data to track our progress, pinpoint unmet need, and effectively and efficiently direct resources. The United States strongly supports UNAIDS and its leadership in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

We appreciate that UNAIDS and its cosponsors will dedicate the thematic day of the upcoming UNAIDS Board meeting in June to discuss the joint response needed to end tuberculosis and AIDS. TB is the leading killer of people living with HIV, and yet in 2016 it is estimated that less than half of the cases of TB in people living with HIV were identified, and less that 60 percent of TB patients were tested for HIV. Given the strong association between the two diseases, and our administration’s commitment under President Trump, we are addressing these two epidemics concurrently in a cost effective, efficient and high impact way. This is a critical point as we prepare for the UN High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis this fall.

The United States’ commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the Trump administration, and bicameral and bipartisan Congressional support is unwavering. As a global community, we have the historic opportunity – for the first time ever – to control a pandemic without a vaccine or a cure, though those will be necessary to eradicate HIV. To seize this moment, we must all focus our efforts on where the burden of HIV/AIDS is the greatest. We must ensure that men, women, and children we are still missing who do not know their status, in the hardest-hit countries, cities, and communities have the lifesaving HIV prevention and treatment services that allow them to survive, thrive, and fulfill their dreams.