This World AIDS Day, the United States recognizes continued progress in the global AIDS response as well as the serious threat HIV remains to global health and global health security.
Over nearly two decades, strong bipartisan U.S. leadership across Administrations and from Congress has helped move the global HIV epidemic from tragedy toward triumph. Globally, AIDS-related deaths have been cut by almost two-thirds, and new HIV infections have been halved since their respective peaks. In community after community, where AIDS once brought unfathomable death and despair, there is now vibrant life and hope.
Yet, as we have seen over the past 21 months, our progress on global health, including HIV, is neither impervious to new threats nor inevitable. We must keep our focus and conviction and address the enduring inequities facing far too many people around the world.
That is why the U.S. government’s theme for World AIDS Day this year is “Ending the HIV Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice.” The HIV epidemic continues to claim nearly 700,000 lives and infect 1.5 million people annually, often fueled by deep disparities in access to life-saving HIV services solely because of who you are, where you live, or whom you love.
We will end AIDS only if we protect people’s sexual and reproductive rights and stop discrimination against those who are often the most vulnerable to HIV, namely the LGBTQI+ community, people who use drugs, sex workers, racial and ethnic minorities, and women and girls. We also must always ensure that all voices are heard and honored in our efforts.
The U.S. government, through nearly $100 billion invested in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and as the largest donor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, is proud to have helped transform the global health landscape. Working closely with countries and communities, PEPFAR has saved more than 21 million lives, prevented millions of HIV infections, and supported at least 20 countries to achieve epidemic control of HIV or reach their HIV treatment targets – all while significantly strengthening local health systems to deliver people-centered services to those most in need.
This year, as the global community marks the fortieth anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS, we reflect not only on how far we have come together, but also on the road ahead to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal target of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
To reach our goals, we must address the stigma, injustice, and punitive laws that stand in our way. Through PEPFAR, we will support equitable health services and solutions, enduring national health systems, and lasting collaborations. Our investments in PEPFAR remain vital in the global AIDS response. They have also been instrumental as the backbone of the COVID-19 response across much of Africa and contributed to greater global health security, including pandemic preparedness.
On World AIDS Day, the United States reaffirms our steadfast commitment to partnering with countries and communities to help end the HIV epidemic, support resilient and responsive health systems, and create a healthier, more equitable, and more secure world.