November 24, 2017

Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides on HIV/AIDS – 9 June 2016

High-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on HIV/AIDS – New York, 8-10 June 2016ΚΑΣΟΥΛΙΔΗΣ -HIVAIDS

Mr. President,

This high level meeting comes at a very opportune moment in our global response to effectively and definitively tackle the AIDS epidemic that for decades has claimed, and still claiming, so many lives. Over the past 35 years, the pandemic of HIV/AIDS has left no corner of the world untouched affecting progress and development in many countries, in particular Sub-Saharan Africa, and challenging all development goals. At the same time we must acknowledge that the international community has made strides in curbing the disease.

But the battle is not yet won, and we have not yet done enough.

The Political Declaration before us “On the Fast-Track to accelerate the fight against HIV and to End the AIDS Epidemic by 2030” on which we have just committed to,  is a landmark document with very ambitious, time-bound targets and recommendations without which we will not be able to successfully end the AIDS epidemic as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda.  We would like to express our gratitude to the two co-facilitators of the negotiating process, Ambassador Mwaba Kasese-Bota of Zambia and Ambassador Jurg Lauber of Switzerland for this successful outcome.

Mr. President,

Cyprus subscribes to the Statement of the European Union. I would like however to make some additional comments from a national perspective.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Cyprus is still limited by global standards despite a small increase since 2005 in the number of new HIV cases diagnosed annually. This is to remind us that the fight against the epidemic is not yet over. We need to redouble our efforts, in particular among the vulnerable groups of our society, if we want to preserve the low prevalence levels of HIV-infection and to finally end the epidemic.The majority of the cases are currently receiving antiretroviral therapy. Treatment, including combination antiretroviral therapies, care, voluntary counseling and testing are provided free by the Government in Cyprus.

Cyprus’s policy is formulated in line with the EU directives and in close cooperation with its EU and other international partners. Our time-bound plans of action against the epidemic are systematically updated and adjusted based on new knowledge and experience and technological advances.

The national AIDS committee for the prevention and fight against HIV/AIDS which consists of representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, has developed an action plan which includes expanding health promotion activities; promoting preventative measures especially among adolescents, young women and men; expanding testing and screening for HIV; providing antiretroviral treatment as part of prevention measures; and addressing issues of stigma and discrimination.

Protection of human rights constitutes the cornerstone of our AIDS response policy. In our campaign against HIV/AIDS, a multisectoral, rights-based, all-inclusive approach is followed aiming at the prevention of HIV/infection and the care and support of people with HIV/AIDS. All competent governmental authorities, the private sector, civil society and NGOS, actively promote inclusion of all segments of society, especially the vulnerable, in promoting HIV public awareness and alleviating stigma and discrimination.

Mr. President,

As the UN Secretary General says in his report, despite remarkable global progress, if we accept the status quo unchanged, the epidemic will rebound and the treatment costs will rise sharply. The indivisibility and integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals indicate that without tackling the AIDS epidemic and other infectious diseases and without meeting the health challenges of our time, we will not be able to meet the 2030 timeline for all other SDGs and targets. On the other hand, a fast-track, multisectoral response to AIDS means concurrent progress on all SDGs including among others on poverty reduction, food and nutrition security, gender equality, reducing inequalities and promoting human rights, justice and rule of law.

 Mr. President,

In the road ahead, political leadership is indispensable and a major asset in our response to AIDS. But equally essential is practical and financial support, in particular to the most vulnerable.

Cyprus joins the international community in renewing the promise to work with diligence and determination, globally, regionally and nationally at the highest political level, in order to achieve our commitments of ultimately realizing our common objective of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

The political declaration just adopted by this august body sends a strong message across the globe that the international community is determined and united to do everything possible for a world free of HIV/AIDS.

Thank you.