05. December 2022



Programme Director, Madame Fariba Soltani,
Executive Director of the UNODC, Madame Ghada Waly,
Ambassador Laura Holgate,
Ambassador Corinne Kitsell,
Ambassador Schmidt-Bremmer,
Distinguished panellists, Excellencies.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank Ambassadors Holgate, Kitsell and Schmidt-Bremmer for their presentations and the UNODC HIV/AIDS Section for convening this important event to commemorate World Aids Day to remind the global community that  HIV/AIDS has not yet been defeated and the critical importance of equalising access for effective and quality HIV prevention, treatment and health care.  This year’s theme calls upon global leaders and citizens to boldly recognize and address the inequalities which are holding back progress in ending AIDS and equalize access to essential HIV services by 2030.

This necessitates addressing the structural barriers to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, especially focused on women who use drugs and women in prison. This event has provided an excellent platform to draw awareness to the plight of this group who are often marginalised and vulnerable.

Women are disproportionately affected by HIV due to inherent power imbalances, structural inequities and deeply rooted gender inequalities, which perpetuate Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF).  In this regard, South Africa has linked our 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children to the theme of “Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment to build Women’s Resilience against Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) with a call to Connect, Collaborate and Contract.

Programme Director,

South Africa has aligned the global theme of “Equalise” with “Integrate”, thus our theme is “EQUALISE AND INTEGRATE TO END AIDS”.

Over the past 20 years, South Africa has made significant progress, in addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic although challenges remain perpetuated by stigma, discrimination and affordability. HIV is still a reality, and we should redouble our efforts through the adoption of practical actions to help end AIDS and eradicate the stigma and exclusion faced by people living with HIV, especially marginalized populations, like women who use drugs and women in prisons.

We call upon the global community to heed the global theme to “EQUALIZE”, in line with the principle of Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity between the global South and North through the provision of financial resources and sharing of technology to enable equal access to the best HIV treatment.

The equalisation is needed to address human rights-related barriers to HIV services. In the fight against AIDS, South Africa uses a multi-sectoral response that is grounded on human rights principles and equal access. This includes scaling up economic empowerment of young women and girls, ensuring that they have access to sexual and reproductive health services as well as comprehensive sexuality education that is free of stigma and discrimination.

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the need to “INTEGRATE” health services, both within the community and the prison system, the need to address inequalities that continue to create barriers against access to prevention, treatment, and care. “INTEGRATION” speaks to all efforts to end unequal access to health services.

Your Excellencies,

We have integrated the Nelson Mandela Rules into our provision of services against AIDS, in particular rule 24 ”Health-care services in prison”.  Rule 24 states that the “The provision of health care for prisoners is a State responsibility. Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community and should have access to necessary health-care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It remains inexplicable as how the pharmaceutical Industry managed to address the COVID-19 menace in such a short period of time whilst, no permanent solution has been found for the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We call on the international community, especially the scientific and pharmaceutical Industry, to redouble their efforts in finding, without profit and greed, a permanent solution to this disease.

In conclusion, I would like to express my appreciation to the UNODC HIV/AIDS Section for the technical assistance and capacity building provided to developing countries to scale up “equalisation” and “integration” efforts towards the ultimate objective of ending AIDS by 2030. This requires sustainable funding for strengthening health systems, pandemic preparedness, and timely response, as well as recovery plans necessitated by COVID-19 setbacks. We call upon Member States to continue providing extra budgetary support to the UNODC HIV/AIDS Section in line with the principle of shared responsibility and global solidarity.

I thank you.

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