UNITED NATIONS (PA) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged nations around the world on Thursday to ensure equal access to HIV services for those most at risk of contracting AIDS – the LGBTQ community, drug addicts, sex workers, racial and ethnic minorities, and women and girls.
He warned in pre-recorded video remarks on the last day of a three-day high-level meeting on AIDS at the United Nations General Assembly that the goal of ending AIDS cannot be achieved “if we refuse. sexual and reproductive rights, or encourage discrimination. against those most vulnerable to HIV.
Although remarkable progress has been made since the United States Centers for Disease Control reported the first cases of what later became known as AIDS 40 years ago this week, Blinken said “Persistent inequities” between and within 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 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 social, economic, racial and gender gaps, all of which have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, then “millions more people will contract HIV, and millions more people living with HIV will die. “
“Today we expect our fellow members to work with the United States to ensure equal access to quality HIV services for all, no matter who they are or who they love,” said Blinken.
The General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a statement on Tuesday calling for urgent action to end AIDS by 2030. It noted “with concern” that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities and pushed the access to drugs, treatment and diagnosis against AIDS even further.
The declaration calls on 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. It also calls for progress towards the elimination of all forms of HIV-related illness. stigma and discrimination and for urgent work for an HIV vaccine and a cure for AIDS.
Although the statement focuses on tackling inequality, it never mentions the LGBTQ community.
It reaffirms “the right of every human being, without distinction of any kind, to enjoy the best possible state of physical and mental health”.
The statement also states “that the availability, accessibility, acceptability, affordability and quality of combined prevention, screening, treatment, care and support, health and social services, including Sexual and reproductive health services, information and education, provided free of stigma and discrimination, are essential elements in achieving the full realization of this right.
And it calls on all countries to strengthen global, regional and national responses to HIV through increased engagement with a wide range of organizations and initiatives, including “people living with, at risk and affected by. HIV ”.