Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
New York, New York
June 9, 2022
We join the international community and all stakeholders here today in the UN General Assembly to honor and remember the more than 36 million people, including 700,000 Americans, who have tragically died from AIDS-related illness since the start of the epidemic. We also renew our commitment to stand with the nearly 38 million people living with HIV around the world as we pursue our shared goal of ending the HIV epidemic.
To do so, we must ensure equitable access to HIV services for all, particularly the populations most impacted by the epidemic: the LGBTQI+ community, people who use drugs, sex workers, racial and ethnic minorities, women and girls. It is astounding to reflect on the lives lost and to reflect on how far we still need to travel together, as a global community, in saving and improving millions of lives touched by the AIDS pandemic.
The United States recognizes that 2021 was a benchmark year for UNAIDS and its Cosponsor UN agencies, with the Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026 adopted in Geneva, in March, the 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS adopted at the UN General Assembly in New York in June, and the Human Rights Council resolution on HIV and AIDS in July because these documents lay out, with clarity, what we must do and continue to do together: which is to focus on the most vulnerable. We support the strategy because we know the power of good guidance and good strategic direction when endorsed by UN normative bodies, and we expect UNAIDS to deliver.
The dual HIV and COVID pandemics continue to reveal and exacerbate existing inequities and vulnerabilities. But, of equal importance, this past year has spot-lighted the importance of peer-led civil society efforts in reaching persons living with and at risk for HIV during the COVID crisis. Community involvement and leadership is central to the HIV/AIDS response and that’s why we continue to ring this same bell. COVID-19 has also reminded us to accelerate the implementation of integrated services previously done separately, such as using the opportunity to conduct HIV viral load testing or screen for at-risk diseases while delivering anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to clients.
We commend the United Nations family, the Global Fund, Partner governments, and communities on the tremendous progress we have made together in reaching epidemic control in several countries, driven by smart investments and critical policy changes; now we need to maintain those gains as we battle this disruptive pandemic.
We also have several milestones in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the United States. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) celebrates its nineteen-year anniversary this year. Since its inception and with bilateral support, the U.S. Government has invested $100 billion to transform the global AIDS response. On Worlds AIDS Day, December 1, 2021, President Biden announced that the United States will host the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference. In the fall 2022.