The President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, in collaboration with UNAIDS, brought together six heads of state or government to accelerate action and get countries on the Fast-Track to end AIDS. World leaders joined around 500 partners from government, the private sector and civil society on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly to reinvigorate political leadership around HIV.
The Fast-Track approach is saving more and more lives. In 2016, 19.5 million people—more than half the 36.7 million people living with HIV—were accessing life-saving treatment. The number of people who died from AIDS-related illnesses has been reduced by nearly half since 2005, and the global number of new HIV infections has been reduced by 11% since 2010.
However, the pace of action is still not enough to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. In order to step up progress and achieve the global targets adopted in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS, all partners need to fully implement their country Fast-Track strategy. Ending AIDS requires steadfast political leadership, commitment to action and accountability towards shared responsibility and reaffirmed global solidarity. Increased effective and efficient investments are, and will continue to be, an essential prerequisite for success. Elimination of stigma and discrimination and full recognition of human rights are cornerstones of sustainable progress.
“Leadership, partnership and innovation will transform the epidemic,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé.
President Museveni was the first head of state in Africa to launch a presidential Fast-Track initiative on ending AIDS as a public health threat, known as “Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo”, or “no time for playing games”.
“I am confident that working together with you all, we shall attain an AIDS-free Africa. It is possible to end AIDS in our generation!” said President Museveni.
During the event, the speakers outlined the positive impact that the Fast-Track approach to ending AIDS is having on people, health systems and the broader Sustainable Development Goals in Africa and beyond. They noted that addressing HIV within the Sustainable Development Goals will pave the foundation of the AIDS response.
“We must build on the Fast-Track commitments. We cannot stop before we have reached the finish line,” said Jacquelyne Alesi, a civil society representative from Uganda.
Speakers made a strong call for political leadership, global solidarity and shared responsibility to build momentum and deliver on the goal of ending AIDS by 2030, highlighting the role that supporting strengthened health systems plays, not just in making progress towards the Fast-Track Targets, but also in addressing stigma and discrimination.
“I am not speaking of a vague hope, but of a willingness of the heart. I do not say “we could defeat AIDS,” but rather “we will end AIDS,” said Line Renaud, singer and AIDS activist.
Momentum is building, but has not yet reached a critical mass. When the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Political Declaration on Ending AIDS in June 2016, Member States committed to achieve global and regional Fast-Track Targets by 2020.
In 2016, UNAIDS estimated:
19.5 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy
36.7 million [30.8 million–42.9 million] people globally were living with HIV
1.8 million [1.6 million–2.1 million] people became newly infected with HIV
1.0 million [830 000–1.2 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses