18
Jul

“Official AIDS-2016 Opening” Press Conference

AIDS-2016 opened on July 18 with the Official Press Conferences. Here are some quotes from the Press Conference speakers:

21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), Durban, South Africa. Photo shows: Official AIDS 2016 Opening Press Conference. Chris Beyrer. Photo©International AIDS Society/Marcus Rose

Chris Beyrer
AIDS 2016 International Chair, International AIDS Society President

Despite the tremendous progress to date millions of people are still being left behind. More than a million people still die of HIV/AIDS every year and another 2 million become newly infected with HIV. Concerning data released last week show that overall new HIV infections among adults have stalled, failing to decline for the last 5 years. New prevention tools like PReP are out of reach for the great majority of people who could benefit from them. Human rights of those at greatest risk – gay and bisexual men, transgender people, people who inject drugs, sex workers and prisoners – are persistently violated throughout the world. These key populations now represent more than third of new infections worldwide. That’s why the theme of AIDS-2016 is “Access, equity, rights now”. Throughout this week we will be putting these words into action. We will work together to determine the actions we can take to reach the people most in need and those who still lack access to comprehensive treatment, prevention, care and support.

21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), Durban, South Africa. Photo shows: Official AIDS 2016 Opening Press Conference. Ban Ki-moon. Photo©International AIDS Society/Marcus Rose

Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General

Nowadays 30 million people worldwide do not get access to treatment and care they deserve. Some countries have no babies born with HIV – that’s very encouraging but many children living with HIV still lack treatment. I call Durban-2016 to mark the commitment to a new era – the era of Fast-track response. In order to end this epidemic we must close the gaps that keep people from accessing services and living with dignity. We have to expand resources, science and services and protect the rights of people living with HIV. When doing this we can end stigma and discrimination, prevent the spread of HIV and save lives.

21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), Durban, South Africa. Photo shows: Official AIDS 2016 Opening Press Conference. (L-R) Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo©International AIDS Society/Marcus Rose
Cyril Ramaphosa
Deputy President, Republic of South Africa

As we work harder to provide testing and counselling to the general population we need to ensure that adolescents – girls, boys, young women and men – receive information and advice and are able to access services such as condoms and PReP where necessary. We need to design and implement programs that address the needs of key populations who are at risk. We are also optimistic about this conference yielding commitments from the international community to invest in research as well as development that can lead to new opportunities for the vaccine and a functional cure.

21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), Durban, South Africa. Photo shows: Official AIDS 2016 Opening Press Conference. Michel Sidibe. Photo©International AIDS Society/Marcus Rose

Michel Sidibé
UNAIDS Executive Director

I’m scared because I don’t see a decline in the number of new infections among adults. We have 1.9 million of new infections every year since 2011. I am scared because I see more young girls getting infected. Those are the issues this conference needs to address. We have to be able to call upon our donors to make sure they understand that this is no time to stop. If we stop now we will certainly see a resurgence in the epidemic. I brought with today the “10 commitments” that are coming from a High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. They will help us to continue to push action and make sure we reach 30 million people on ART by 2020 and 1.6 million children gain access to treatment by 2018. I think that these calls which are listed in the “10 commitments” will certainly create a new space for us from now to 2020. I don’t want to lie to anyone – I don’t see Zambia, Malawi or even South Africa being able to put people on treatment and reach the level we want to reach without global solidarity and shared responsibility. We will un fortunately see millions of people developing resistance and losing their capacity to be part of a great success story.

21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), Durban, South Africa. Photo shows: Official AIDS 2016 Opening Press Conference. Charlize Theron. Photo©International AIDS Society/Marcus Rose

Charlize Theron
Founder of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and United Nations Messenger of Peace

The only way we can reach the most vulnerable is through community-based organizations. The communities are the ones who are in the trenches. They are living this life with those people and I don’t think we give them enough credit or enough support. Until we actually reach these people, get them effectively engaged, empower them to want better for themselves – nothing is going to change in the fight with this epidemic. And like Michel Sidibé said we might be pushing this rock up the entire hill again. We are so close to pushing it over the edge – there needs to be more conversation about ending the epidemic and not just sustaining it and maintaining it. I’m here because I think we can stop this. AIDS is 100% preventable – it’s time to have that conversation for real.