Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – UN General Assembly: 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS

New York, 10/06/2021 - 01:20, UNIQUE ID: 210609_14
Statements on behalf of the EU

8 June 2021, New York - General Statement by the European Union and its Member States delivered by the Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen at the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS: 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: Ending inequalities and getting on track to end AIDS by 2030

Mr. President, Excellencies and colleagues,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its 27 Member States.

We highly welcome today’s session on the High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS which is convened every five years to discuss the progress in the elimination of HIV/AIDS and pave the way for the coming years to reach the ambitious but achievable goal of elimination HIV/AIDS as a global epidemic.

We would like to thank the President of the General Assembly and particularly the co-facilitators, Namibia and Australia and their teams for their tireless efforts on the political declaration.

The High Level Meeting comes at a historic moment as the first case of HIV/AIDS was diagnosed 40 years ago and it marks 20 years since the groundbreaking UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS and also the creation of the Global Fund.

And yet we still have to get the world on track to end HIV/AIDS as a global epidemic. The fight against HIV/AIDS is not over, but we are committed to take urgent action over the next five years through a coordinated global HIV response. HIV/AIDS claims lives on a daily basis and shatters families and communities. Every case that can be prevented, saves lives, spares grievances and spares life-long treatment as well as economic resources. Every case that receives treatment, gives new hope not only to an individual but also to families and communities.

Still, around 2 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2019, around 40 million are living with it and an estimated 7 million don’t even know about their status and might spread it further. So despite the important successes, we still have a huge task ahead of us and a lot still needs to be done and achieved.

That is the reason why we started the negotiations of this Political Declaration with high ambitions well aware that we need to do better, to move forward, if we truly want to achieve our goals.

We are extremely disappointed that a consensual document could not be achieved despite major concessions from our side and the compromises carefully crafted by the co-facilitators and agreed by the overwhelming majority of the UN membership. We are even more disappointed upon realizing that some countries have sought to disrupt the process even until the very end. It is a shame that fighting HIV/AIDS becomes the victim of political games.

 

Mr President, let me nevertheless point out important positive aspects of this declaration:

  • Rightly combination prevention is one of the centrepieces of the declaration because our priority is to avoid suffering. The numerous approaches and instruments illustrated in the declaration mirror well the knowledge gathered over the last decades and, in combination, are a powerful means to fight HIV/AIDS.

 

  • Also clearly pointing on critical factors which fuel HIV/AIDS is important to guide our actions. In this regard, we appreciate seeing that the high risks of gender-based and intimate partner violence are clearly illustrated. It is not only a personal tragedy but also exposes the affected persons to a multiple times higher risk of getting infected with HIV.

 

  • UNAIDS, being the key UN institution to fight HIV/AIDS, identifies five main key population groups that are particularly vulnerable to HIV and frequently lack adequate access to services: key populations and their sexual partners account globally for up to 80% of new HIV infections. We are satisfied to see key populations adequately mentioned in the text in relevant places.

 

Nevertheless we have to underline that this might not be sufficient and we would have wanted to go further.

  • We are disappointed that no agreement could be reached on age-appropriate evidence-based comprehensive education including on sexuality in the context of a disease, which is mainly sexually transmitted. Early and comprehensive knowledge and awareness are crucial to prevent infection and to save lives.

 

  • The Global AIDS Strategy until 2026 is the critical guidance to pave the way for the coming years. It has our full support and we rely on the profound expertise of UNAIDS and the extensive consultations which led to this strategy. We would have preferred to have a commitment from all countries for the entire package of strategies, not a selection of strategies.

 

  • In the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is important to work against stigmatization which is often linked to sexual orientation and gender identity and to punitive laws. Commitments to remove such barriers in order to effectively fight HIV/AIDS would have been extremely important and we regard this a major gap in the declaration.

Finally we were nevertheless able to join consensus and to compromise as we were guided by the purpose of this declaration: we need to be united and ambitious in light of the expectations which are rightly put on us not only to deliver a significant political declaration but to live up to these commitments starting today.

We cannot disappoint people already affected by HIV/AIDS and we cannot miss out on committing to do our outmost to prevent every single case in the future!

We are looking forward to interesting discussions in the coming sessions!



Thank you.

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