‘We must finish what we started.’

What is next in the AIDS response?

Michel Sidibé — UNAIDS Executive Director

We have reached a defining moment in the AIDS response. Against all odds, we have achieved the AIDS targets of Millennium Development Goal 6.

AIDS changed everything.

The epidemic frightened us to the core, brought death to our door and opened our eyes to the injustice of stigma and discrimination faced by the most vulnerable people among us. In 2000, with a crisis before us, the world responded at a magnitude not seen before.

Together, we have faced down some of the most difficult issues in society and persevered on the side of equity and justice. We have ensured that advancements in science are reaching everyone, everywhere. And always, we are asking ourselves — “what is next?”

Next, my friends, we must finish what we started. As part of the sustainable development goals we must set our sights on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

‘The next five years will be especially critical to lay the foundation.’

We have seen that the AIDS response is a powerful pathfinder. As we strive to end this epidemic as a public health threat, we are also on a path towards better health, education and employment for families and communities.

It is inspiring how partners in the AIDS response have time and again reached for what is best rather than what is good enough. From equal access to services and quality medicines to the protection of rights and promotion of respect and dignity — we have followed the evidence and we have followed our hearts.

The Millennium Development Goals in 2000 were just the beginning. Two Security Council resolutions and three subsequent United Nations Political Declarations demanded more of us, putting the focus on setting more and more ambitious targets. In 2011 world leaders called for reaching 15 million people with life-saving HIV treatment by 2015. And that is exactly what the world did — ahead of schedule.

In 15 years we have reduced the number of new HIV infections from 3.1 million [3.0 million–3.3 million] to 2.0 million [1.9 million–2.2 million]. If we had stayed complacents 30 more million people would have been infected with HIV, 7.8 million more would have died and 8.9 million more children would have been orphaned due to AIDS.

The AIDS movement demonstrates that with a shared vision, shared responsibility and through global solidarity and leadership of people living with HIV, affected communities and individual action, we can change the course of history. We can turn hopes into expectations into non-negotiables.

The unprecedented progress we have made would not have been possible without the leadership of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and his predecessor Kofi Annan. On behalf of all of us in the AIDS response we thank you.

The pages of ‘How AIDS changed everything’ contain valuable insights and ground-breaking and heart-warming experiences from the innovative and exciting work that partners, communities and countries have done and are doing in the AIDS response. There are also heart-breaking stories about the challenges that still remain.

We expect there are many lessons learned that could add value towards the new global goals as a model for a people-centred approach for development. This is the legacy we bring to future generations.

And friends, I hope today’s shared success inspires all of us to move aggressively forward tomorrow. The next five years will be especially critical to lay the foundation. If we frontload investments and Fast-Track our efforts over the next five years, we will end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Let’s get to work and get it done.

How AIDS changed everything — MDG 6: 15 years, 15 lesson of hope from the AIDS response celebrates the milestone achievement of 15 million people on antiretroviral treatment — an accomplishment deemed impossible when the MDGs were established 15 years ago.

The story continues at www.whitetablegallery.org

Explore the first exhibition at The White Table Gallery which tells the story of how ‘things’ can have special meanings in the AIDS response.

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