Each year on the 1st December, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) joins the international community in commemorating World AIDS Day. This is an opportunity for us to show support to our brothers and sisters living with HIV and remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.
Today, World AIDS Day is being commemorated under peculiar circumstances as humanity is faced with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic which has devastated communities, destroyed economies worldwide and threatens the gains made in the fight against HIV and AIDS over the past decades.
This year, World AIDS Day is being commemorated under the theme ‘Global solidarity, shared responsibility” to remind us of the important task to ensure that each person living with HIV or is vulnerable to HIV has access to the care they need. More importantly, governments and all stakeholders have the responsibility of working together and putting people at the centre of their programmes by implementing human rights and gender responsive strategies that will leave no one behind and help to end AIDS and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notwithstanding the challenges faced during the year, and in line with the regional and global commitments, SADC Member States have continued to implement effective strategies to fight HIV and AIDS. A number of Member States have achieved the 90-90-90 fast track targets and few more are close to achieving this significant milestone. It is important to underscore that one SADC Member State has achieved the 95-95-95 target, well ahead of the deadline for achieving the target in 2030. Such achievement demonstrates the strong commitment of SADC Member States to build an HIV-free generation for the effective development of the region.
May I take this opportunity to remind the SADC community and the wider community that the fight against HIV, which has been affecting our lives for more than 30 years, must not be overlooked. More than ever we must increase our collaborative efforts and mobilise enough resources to ensure that we sustain and consolidate the remarkable gains made in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the context of COVID-19 in order to end AIDS by 2030.
As we commemorate this day, I congratulate Member States and all stakeholders for the unflinching solidarity they have demonstrated from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic almost nine months ago, which has ensured that HIV and other health services are not disrupted due to the challenges posed by this pandemic.