Viet Nam Speech at 2016 UN High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS
by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, Chair of the National Committee for AIDS, Drugs and Prostitution Prevention and Control
on Thursday, 9 June 2016
Madam President, I trust that under your chair, this meeting will be successful in advancing our commitment to ending AIDS by 2030.
The AIDS epidemic, at its onset, evoked panic and deepened social division in many countries. People living with HIV were often associated with evils, and were subject to taboo and moral judgement.
In 1994, I attended the first World Summit on AIDS in Paris. Its spirit of determination still inspires me deeply, but I also will never forget the fear and confusion in the eyes of the delegates. Many people were dying. There was no effective treatment. There was very little hope.
Today, the situation is more optimistic. HIV prevention has been strengthened. Increasing numbers of people can access life-saving treatment. Stigma and discrimination have been reduced. But we cannot forget that in the last year there were about 2 million people newly infected. So many of them are women! More than 20 million people still do not have access to ARV treatment. While I am talking to you here today, some twenty people have become infected.
In Viet Nam, HIV prevention and control is one of the highest priorities of the Government. The epidemic has been largely controlled. HIV infection is no longer considered a sin. Infected people are recognized as patients who need care, support and treatment. We could only have made this progress with the support of international organizations and the donor community.
Despite the fact that the epidemic is stabilized, we are increasing resources for HIV prevention and control. Viet Nam was also the first country in the Asia-Pacific to commit to the 90-90-90 targets. Like many other developing countries, we still require continuing international partnership.
We all know that worldwide there are many new concerns ranging from climate change to migration issues and conflicts. But HIV and AIDS are still there. Without stronger partnership, many countries will be left behind on the fast track to ending AIDS, and there is a real possibility that the epidemic could re-bound, could re-emerge as a global threat.
We can’t become complacent. In order to end this epidemic, we must increase our efforts. And we should do this together.
This is not just the voice of my Government, but also the voice of the most vulnerable. [Madame President I would like to introduce to you Mrs. Thanh] As part of our official delegation, I invited her, a woman living with HIV. Thanh lives in a small hamlet in the remote mountains. She and her husband are both on ARV treatment. They are able to work again. She became a peer educator and is very much appreciated by her community. Like a miracle, they have a very cute and healthy baby girl, born without HIV. This miracle was only made possible because of an internationally financed project, in partnership with the local Government and community.
Without this, she would probably not be with us today. And it’s not only her. Many other people, women and children, would be infected, could not go to school, could not work, could not have families and even would not be alive.
Should we reduce this support? No! We cannot. We don’t have the right to do that.
[Madam President, with your permission I would like to invite Thanh to say a few words] [Thanh: Thank you. Thank you so much for giving me back my life, my hope, my future and please do not forget us. Thank you!]
So you have just heard Thanh saying ‘thank you so much for giving her back her life, her hope and her future. Let us respond to her and to the voices of the voiceless by re-committing ourselves with all our heart and soul to ending AIDS.
Let us join hands to achieve the 90-90-90 targets, with 100-100-100 commitment and even more!
Thank you for your attention.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) was established in 1996 as the global leader of the response to HIV. UNAIDS leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. See more about UNAIDS at www.unaids.org