UNITED NATIONS (AP) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday urged the nations of the world to ensure equitable access to HIV services for those most at risk of AIDS: the LGBTQ community, drug users, sex workers, racial and ethnic minorities, and women and girls.
He warned in prerecorded video remarks on the last day of a three-day high-level meeting on AIDS at the UN General Assembly that the goal of ending AIDS cannot be achieved “if we deny the sexual and reproductive rights of people, or we encourage discrimination against the very people who are most vulnerable to HIV. “
While remarkable progress has been made since the US Centers for Disease Control reported the first cases of what later became known as AIDS 40 years ago this week, Blinken said the “lasting inequalities” between countries and communities stand in the way of ending the epidemic.
Over the past 40 years, he said, an estimated 32.7 million people have lost their lives to AIDS worldwide, including 700,000 people in the United States. Today, more than 38 million people are living with HIV, including 1.2 million in the United States, he said.
Blinken warned that if the nations of the world fail to close the social, economic, racial and gender gaps, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, then “millions more people will contract HIV and millions more people than now. living with HIV la. “
“Today, we hope that our member countries will work with the United States to ensure that all people have equal access to quality HIV services, regardless of who they are or who they love,” Blinken said.
The General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a statement on Tuesday calling for urgent action to end AIDS by 2030. It noted “with alarm” that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities and further alienated access to medicines, treatments and AIDS diagnoses.
The declaration commits the assembly’s 193 member countries to implement the 18-page document, including reducing annual new HIV infections to less than 370,000 and annual AIDS-related deaths to less than 250,000 by 2025. Also urges progress towards the elimination of all forms of HIV-related diseases. stigma and discrimination and for urgent work towards an HIV vaccine and a cure for AIDS.
While the statement focuses on addressing inequalities, it never mentions the LGBTQ community.
It reaffirms “the right of every human being, without distinction of any kind, to the enjoyment of the highest possible level of physical and mental health.”
The statement also affirms “that the availability, accessibility, acceptability, affordability and quality of combined HIV prevention, testing, treatment, care and support, health and social services, including health care services sexual and reproductive, information and education, provided free of stigma and discrimination, are essential elements to achieve the full realization of this right “.
And it commits all countries to strengthening global, regional and national responses to HIV through intensified engagement with a wide range of organizations and initiatives that include “people living with, at risk of, and affected by HIV. he”.