United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the occasion of World's AIDS Day on Tuesday said that World AIDS Day is a reminder of the need to maintain focus on a global pandemic which continues to exist nearly 40 years after it emerged.
HIV still infects 1.7 million people and kills some 690,000 people each year, the UN secretary-general said as countries across the world observe World AIDS Day on December 1
"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," the UN chief said in a statement.
The UN chief stressed that universal health coverage must be a top investment priority and urged everyone to stand in solidarity and share the responsibility to overcome COVID-19 and end AIDS, on World AIDS Day 2020.
"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," the UN chief said.
Guterres said that COVID-19 has been a wake-up call to the world while adding that wealth should not determine the accessibility to health care.
"Inequalities in health affect all of us. No one is safe unless we all are safe...We need a COVID-19 vaccine and HIV treatments and care that are affordable and available to everyone, everywhere," Guterres stated.
The UN chief reiterated the need to eliminate stigma and discrimination to end AIDS and defeat COVID-19 and put people at the centre and "ground our responses" in human rights and gender-responsive approaches.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation called upon the people the world over to thank those who are in the forefront in the fight against HIV around the world.
"Take a moment to thank community health workers, nurses, doctors, scientists and everybody involved in the fight against #HIV round the world. They are at the forefront playing a part in supporting people living with HIV & helping to end AIDS," WHO tweeted.
World AIDS Day was first observed on December 1, 1988, as an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.