July 22, 2015
Written by Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director
This post originally appeared on Medium.com.
We have reached a defining moment in the AIDS response. Against all odds, we have achieved the AIDS targets of Millennium Development Goal 6.
AIDS changed everything.
The epidemic frightened us to the core, brought death to our door and opened our eyes to the injustice of stigma and discrimination faced by the most vulnerable people among us. In 2000, with a crisis before us, the world responded at a magnitude not seen before.
Together, we have faced down some of the most difficult issues in society and persevered on the side of equity and justice. We have ensured that advancements in science are reaching everyone, everywhere. And always, we are asking ourselves — “what is next?”
Next, my friends, we must finish what we started. As part of the sustainable development goals we must set our sights on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
We have seen that the AIDS response is a powerful pathfinder. As we strive to end this epidemic as a public health threat, we are also on a path towards better health, education and employment for families and communities.
It is inspiring how partners in the AIDS response have time and again reached for what is best rather than what is good enough. From equal access to services and quality medicines to the protection of rights and promotion of respect and dignity — we have followed the evidence and we have followed our hearts.
The Millennium Development Goals in 2000 were just the beginning. Two Security Council resolutions and three subsequent United Nations Political Declarations demanded more of us, putting the focus on setting more and more ambitious targets. In 2011 world leaders called for reaching 15 million people with life-saving HIV treatment by 2015. And that is exactly what the world did — ahead of schedule.
In 15 years we have reduced the number of new HIV infections from 3.1 million [3.0 million–3.3 million] to 2.0 million [1.9 million–2.2 million]. If we had stayed complacents 30 more million people would have been infected with HIV, 7.8 million more would have died and 8.9 million more children would have been orphaned due to AIDS.