Helen Clark Statement on World Aids Day

01 Dec 2013

December 1st marks the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day, when as a global community we come together to recommit ourselves to halting and reversing the spread of HIV.

There is much to celebrate: new HIV infections fell by 33 per cent between 2001 and 2012, AIDS-related deaths have dropped by thirty per cent since 2005, and life-saving antiretroviral treatment reached almost ten million people in 2012 – a forty fold increase since 2002. 

These hard won gains must be protected, and we cannot lose sight of the significant challenges which remain. An estimated 2.3 million people are infected with HIV each year, and epidemics continue to grow in a number of countries and regions. 

Sixty per cent of young people living with HIV globally are female. In sub-Saharan Africa, HIV prevalence among young women is more than twice as high as among young men. While AIDS-related deaths have fallen globally over the last seven years, deaths among adolescents rose by fifty per cent in the same period. 

Punitive laws, gender-based violence, stigma, and discrimination continue to obstruct progress on addressing HIV, particularly among key at risk populations and women. In 2012, sixty per cent of national governments reported the existence of discriminatory laws, regulations or policies which impede access to effective HIV prevention, treatment, and support services.

As a co-sponsor of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and partner of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, UNDP supports countries to respond to the development dimensions of HIV and health.

Our approach recognizes that development action – for governance, human rights, gender equality, social protection, capacity development, and environmental sustainability – contributes significantly to better HIV and health outcomes, especially for the poor and marginalized. 

Our work with the Global Fund has supported governments and civil society in more than forty countries to deliver large-scale HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria programmes, benefiting millions.
 Last year, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law,convened by UNDP, provided important recommendations on improving  legal environments to enable more effective responses to HIV. Together with UN, government, and civil society partners, UNDP is supporting implementation of these recommendations in more than eighty countries, and is already contributing to the revision of discriminatory policies and laws in a number of countries.

Beginning December 1, I encourage our staff to mark World AIDS Day by standing in solidarity with all people affected by HIV. The theme for this milestone observance is “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.” Let us commit to reinvigorating our efforts to realize a world free of AIDS and the scourge of discrimination.