Statement by UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin
Today, as we mark World AIDS Day, we can point to significant progress in the global response to the epidemic on the road to reaching the goals of zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. Worldwide, the number of new HIV infections continues to fall, more people have access to antiretroviral treatment and, as a result, fewer people are dying of AIDS.
Yet, progress can be fragile and momentum tenuous. Inequalities, social exclusion, stigma, as well as discrimination continue to hinder access to life-saving services and commodities for far too many, including women and young people, especially those from key populations. Simply stated, disabling environments hinder abilities for every person to exercise their human rights and reach their full potential, especially the young and the vulnerable.
Of the 6,300 people newly infected each day, almost 40 per cent are young people aged 15-24, the majority of them young women. HIV is also the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age and contributes to at least 20 per cent of maternal deaths.