Statement by the INCB President on the occasion of World AIDS Day, 1 December 2021

VIENNA, 1 December - The world's ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a reminder as to why it is important for everyone, everywhere to have access to health care. Access to health care is crucial in order to prevent, treat and eradicate different diseases, including HIV/AIDS. 

While the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic monopolizes the attention of the international community, it is important not neglect people living with HIV/AIDS. There were an estimated 37.7 million people reportedly living with HIV/AIDS in 2020 with around 1.5 million people who became newly infected in the last year and around 680,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide in the same period.

People living with HIV/AIDS are also more vulnerable to severe outcomes of COVID-19 with studies indicating that this group has double the risk of dying from COVID-19 complications than people not living with HIV/AIDS.

This year's World AIDS Day seeks to focus on the inequalities which contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Currently, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to two thirds (67%) of people living with HIV/AIDS. It is important to eliminate financial and other barriers to health care and increase investment in order to achieve universal health care coverage for everyone, everywhere. Achieving this will ensure equal access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care. Last year, key populations (which include sex workers and people who inject drugs) and their sexual partners accounted for 65% of HIV infections globally.

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still possible to meet the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The United Nations General Assembly recently adopted a new plan to accelerate progress, which included new targets for 2025.

In order to achieve this, collective action is required from all sectors of society, including harnessing leadership at the community level to drive change, combat stigma, and eliminate discriminatory laws, policies and practices. Provision of evidence-based services for the prevention of drug use and for the treatment and rehabilitation of people with drug use disorders is essential to preventing HIV/AIDS transmission associated with injecting drug use. INCB has also recognized that a comprehensive package of interventions aimed at reducing the adverse consequences of drug use, including the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne viral infections among people who inject drugs, has been endorsed widely, including by the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

INCB reaffirms its commitment to support Member States in implementing the drug control conventions and to progress the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 3 on Good Health and Well-being.

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INCB is the independent, quasi-judicial body charged with promoting and monitoring Government compliance with the three international drug control conventions: the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Established by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the thirteen members of the Board are elected in a personal capacity by the Economic and Social Council for terms of five years.

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