Statement

01 December 2009

World AIDS Day: Universal Access and Human Rights

Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid

Today on World AIDS Day we extend solidarity to all people who are living with HIV and AIDS so they can live free of stigma and discrimination. And we remember and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives to AIDS.

Today, we call for universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support, and respect for human rights for all.

By promoting and protecting human rights, and advancing education and gender equality, especially for the most vulnerable and most at risk populations, we can make the AIDS response more effective.

In some parts of the world, girls and women are disproportionately affected by HIV due to the global failure to address their vulnerability. Let us address gender-based violence and discrimination, and promote women’s empowerment in HIV prevention programmes.

In 2008, nearly 10 per cent of maternal deaths were associated with HIV, and yet less than half of HIV-positive pregnant women received ARV drugs to prevent HIV transmission to their children. Together, we can achieve the joint goals of universal access to reproductive health and universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by working together to preserve maternal and child health while working to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS.

By linking sexual and reproductive health and HIV policies, systems and services, we can save and improve lives, accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and increase the effective use of scarce resources.

Today and every day, let us promote universal access and human rights for all.