UNAIDS PROGRAM COORDINATING BOARD
Opening Statement by Theodore Allegra,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim,
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
December 12, 2017
The United States remains firmly, and proudly, behind the life-saving services and advocacy delivered by UNAIDS, both by the UNAIDS Secretariat as well as by the co-sponsor organziations.
And with a steadfast commitment to its mission, the Joint Programme is making good on its promises to the international community, to its partners, and most importantly, to those impacted by the epidemic.
The United States applauds UNAIDS and the Joint Programme for making progress to stablilize its financial situation, and to adjust its business model through the Joint Action Plan. We believe these adjustments provide an enhanced focus on specific country priorities, as well as highlighting the vital role played by the Joint Programme in the global HIV response.
I would like to acknowledge the theme promoted by UNAIDS during this year’s World AIDS Day — “ My Health, My Right,” which promotes the right to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.
The United States stands by the need for every person to be empowered to and mental, and to be free of discrimination and stigma. These awareness efforts reflect a significant step towards an AIDS-free world.
At this year’s UN General Assembly, in collaboration with UNAIDS, Secretary of State Tillerson announced PEPFAR’s strategy of “Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control.” This new strategy is designed to scale up prevention efforts and accelerate access to treatment in 13 high-burden countries.
We believe that a concerted strategy to enable high rates of access to HIV prevention and treatment services in these 13 countries will mean that new cases of HIV can be reduced to the point where HIV epidemic control can be achieved by 2020.
We already know that the UNAIDS Fast Track strategy is working. For the first time since the outbreak of the epidemic, more than half of all people living with HIV – 19 and a half million in total – are accessing life-saving treatment.
This means that new infections are declining, and that the number of people who die from AIDS has been halved since 2005. The people in this room should be very proud of making a difference in saving the lives of so many.
For its part, the United States has supported more than 15.2 million men and boys in Eastern and Southern Africa with substantial protection from HIV infection through voluntary medical male circumcision, including through the largest single-year increase (3.4 million) since the beginning of PEPFAR.
We are employing innovative approaches to reaching men and boys with HIV testing and other prevention services, including by keeping clinics open late and on the weekend, when they are more likely to come. Last year alone, PEPFAR provided more than 85.5 million people with HIV testing services.
We are also particularly pleased by PEPFAR’s achievements — after two years of implementation – to reduce new HIV diagnoses in adolescent girls and young women through the DREAMS public-private partnership. This success would not be possible in the ten African countries, representing 63 districts implementing DREAMS, without the support and commitment of UNAIDS.
The United States also continues to invest substantially in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, including through the lifelong provision of antiretroviral treatment to HIV-positive mothers, both for their own health and to protect their children from infection.
In the United States, we now have evidence that patients with no detectable virus, because of faithful adherence to their medication and routine viral load screening, do not infect their HIV-negative partners. We continue to strive for such an outcome globally.
More broadly, we look forward to hearing the thought of those on the PCB on how we can strengthen the Joint Programme Action Plan and better serve those at risk or living with HIV/AIDS. And we look forward to working together on the HIV Prevention 2020 Road Map.
No one should be turned away, mistreated, or marginalized in a healthcare setting simply because of their HIV status. Doing so only harms communities’ abilities to meaningfully support those living with, and at risk for, HIV and AIDS. We look forward to the thematic discussion on Thursday, as well as tomorrow’s update on actions to reduce stigma and discrimination in all forms.
The AIDS epidemic is a global problem and will take global solidarity to combat it. PEPFAR remains one of the largest country responses to a health crisis in history, but its success is the result of good faith partnerships, from the United Nations in Geneva, to community clinics in countries all over the world.
Now is not the time to sit back — just as we are on the cusp of controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The United States looks forward to active, continued cooperation toward that goal.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Michel Sidibe on his re-appointment as Executive Director of UNAIDS. Sidibe’s second term is an affirmation of the importance of his leadership, and the pivotal role he plays in leading global HIV efforts.
Thank you, Michel. Thank you all. The United States looks forward to a productive session.