14th Jun 2021


40 years of AIDS is more than enough

  • A rally in the Romanian capital Bucharest for World Aids Day (Photo: Petrut Calinescu)

It has been 40 years. 40 years since the HIV epidemic has begun. A sad anniversary.

HIV has struck many lives and continues to do so. 75.7 million people have become infected across the world and 32.7 million people have died of AIDS-related deaths in the last 40 years. It's colossal.

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  • MEP Charles Goerens: Let's make the 2030 goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat a reality (Photo: Renew Europe)

Of course, some progress was made.

Research has had a significant impact : our knowledge about this virus is key to ensure better prevention and limitation of new infections as well as the discovery of new treatments. Thus, lives were and are still saved.

We can also underline that the quality of life of people affected by HIV/AIDS improved over the last years.

It's a first victory, but the fight against this epidemic continues, especially today. We must not forget that the global HIV epidemic remains a global crisis, with some regions of the world being hit more than others.

As you certainly know, sub-Saharan Africa remains the most heavily-affected region by HIV. 57 percent of all new HIV infections take place in this part of the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a terrible crisis, which touches the entire world. Socio-economic consequences are huge and devastating. It's the same for health.

The 2020 AIDS update shows that progress towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 was already off track before the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Covid-19 crisis risks blowing the AIDS response even further off course. We are in an urgent situation and we must measure up this dare. We can't fail.

Inequalities and human rights violations affect hardest communities most at risk of HIV/AIDS, especially girls and young women.

Each week, in sub-Saharan Africa, 4,500 girls and young women between 15 and 24 years old are infected with HIV. Unequal access to education and to sexual and reproductive health services and information increase HIV vulnerability of girls and women. AIDS-related illness is among the leading causes of death among women of reproductive age globally.

In June, there will be a United Nations general assembly high level meeting on HIV/AIDS. This event provides a unique opportunity for UN member states to renew the political and financial commitment to an effective AIDS response and go further, with ambitious objectives.

This is the reason why the European Parliament has debated and will vote on a resolution to urge them to accelerate progress towards the 2030 goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

The European Union and its member states have to put health at the heart of the EU-Africa strategy with the goal of achieving universal health coverage and strengthening health systems.

Thus, Africa could fight against HIV efficiently.

The EU and its member states must act in favour of an ambitious implementation of the Global AIDS Strategy.

It is a duty. Investments in research and innovation will be a fundamental element to improve our tools to prevent, diagnose and treat AIDS. Investing in international partnerships, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which was created following the global surge of HIV/AIDS, is key to ensure an effective fight against the disease.

40 years of existence have been more than enough for HIV. We must not allow this devastating illness to flourish for another 40 years. The 2030 goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat is tomorrow. Let's act to make this goal a reality.

Author bio

Charles Goerens MEP is the Renew Europe coordinator in the Committee of Development and vice-president of the Committee on the Constitutional Affairs. He worked on the resolution Accelerating progress and tackling inequalities towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 in the European Parliament. Goerens was also minister for development in Luxembourg.


This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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