Observed since 1988, World AIDS Day calls for continued vigilance in the fight against HIV/AIDS, supporting those living with the disease and remembering the more than 35 million people lost to it. AIDS-related mortality has declined by 39 percent since 2010. Now a global pandemic has threatened progress and deepened inequalities in the fight.
UNFPA is a cosponsor of UNAIDS, the United Nations agency leading the effort to eradicate HIV/AIDS by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. UNFPA works with partners to increase access to HIV-related services and sexual and reproductive health services, scale up comprehensive sexuality education, and increase access to male and female condoms as a protective method against sexually transmitted infections.
In her statement to mark the occasion, Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA, says that in the face of COVID-19, the world must not forget HIV:
“While the two viruses differ in many ways, the parallels between them reflect the vulnerabilities that these viruses exploit, passing most readily to marginalized groups without access to services, information or protective equipment. Once again, we have seen how those at greatest risk of infection and disease are the least likely to find the protection and care they need.”
The world has been encouraged by progress on multiple vaccines for the coronavirus, which demonstrates what the world can accomplish when confronted by a common enemy. “A virus can remind us that no one is safe until we all are,” Dr. Kanem says. “That we have no time to wait. That the time to invest in equitable health services and uphold human rights is now.”