The Secretary-General’s message on World AIDS Day

1 Dec 2020

The Secretary-General’s message on World AIDS Day

With the world’s attention focused on the COVID-19 crisis, World AIDS Day is a reminder of the need to maintain focus on another global pandemic that is still with us nearly 40 years after it emerged. 

Despite significant successes, the AIDS emergency is not over.  HIV still infects 1.7 million people each year and kills some 690 000.  And inequalities mean that those who are the least able to stand up for their rights are still the most affected.  

COVID-19 has been a wake-up call to the world.  Inequalities in health affect all of us.  No one is safe unless we all are safe.

The HIV response has much to teach the fight against COVID-19.  We know that to end AIDS and defeat COVID-19 we must eliminate stigma and discrimination, put people at the centre and ground our responses in human rights and gender-responsive approaches.  

Wealth should not determine whether people get the health care they need.  We need a COVID-19 vaccine and HIV treatments and care that are affordable and available to everyone, everywhere.

Health is a human right.  Health must be a top investment priority to achieve universal health coverage.  On this World AIDS Day let us recognize that, to overcome COVID-19 and end AIDS, the world must stand in solidarity and share responsibility.