Message by Michelle Bachelet, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director, on the occasion of World AIDS Day. 1 December 2012.
The dramatic drop in new HIV infections announced by UNAIDS is a message of hope as we commemorate World AIDS Day. Given the decline in new infections and AIDS-related deaths, we have reason to celebrate.
Thanks to sustained global efforts to prevent transmission from mother to child, more pregnant women are receiving treatment and far fewer babies are born with HIV. This is great news.
Now we must build on this success to make sure that all women get the information, services and support they need to stay healthy throughout their lifetimes. In 2011, only 30 per cent of eligible pregnant women received anti-retroviral therapy for their own health.
Of the 30.7 million adults living with HIV, 54 percent or some 16.7 million are women, an increase of nearly four percent since 2010. Special attention is needed for young women, aged 15 to 24, who continue to have HIV infection rates twice as high as young men.
This situation is especially urgent in sub-Saharan Africa, the epicenter of the epidemic, where women constitute 58 percent of people living with HIV and only one female condom is available for every 10 women aged 15 to 49.
This World Aids Day, as we celebrate progress in the fight against AIDS, let us renew efforts to protect women’s rights, including reproductive rights and the right to live free of violence and discrimination. Action to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment brings us closer to zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. Together, we can get to zero.