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Ending AIDS as a Public Health Threat by 2030: Statement on the Occasion of World AIDS Day by Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin: United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund in Zambia is pleased to join the Government and people of Zambia and partners in commemorating the 2015 World AIDS Day under the theme "Zambia's Future: Getting to Zero New HIV Infections".

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Zambia is committed to sustaining its partnership with the Government of Zambia at all levels, as well as national and international partners to ensure that we get to Zero New HIV Infections by 2030, including ensuring that the reproductive health needs of women and young people are at the forefront of HIV prevention strategies in Zambia.

It is in this regard that UNFPA Zambia has continued to support both national and sub-national level programmes to prevent HIV among women and young people by providing essential reproductive health commodities such as male and female condoms, modern contraceptives, life-saving maternal health drugs, delivery kits and other equipment required for emergency obstetric and newborn care; investing in programme innovations to strengthencomprehensive condom programming; capacity building for demand generation for condoms including through the CONDOMIZE! campaign; generation of quality data to guide the development and implementation of programmes that address the unique needs of women and young people; as well as capacity building of national health systems to deliver a comprehensive package of integrated sexual and reproductive health, HIV and gender-based violence services

As Zambia celebrates the significant advancements made in improving the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls, it is important that we collectively sustain these gains with intensified actions - including integrating sexual and reproductive health with HIV to maximize efficiencies and impact

These are underscored in the message of the UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin:

This year, World AIDS Day coincides with the 18th international conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) taking place in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 29 November 2015 to 04 December 2015. Many people living with HIV, activists, scientists, young people, civil society organizations, government workers and development partners are gathering in Harare, Zimbabwe, to share knowledge of what works in our collective fight against AIDS.

Whilst HIV is a global threat, the epidemic remains a huge challenge in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, where communities have been ravaged by AIDS. Increasingly, HIV impacts adolescent girls and young women. They are vulnerable owing to violence, child marriage, lack of age and culturally appropriate comprehensive sexuality education, inability to negotiate safe sex, and lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services - including condoms for those sexually active, HIV/STI testing and counselling, and treatment.

Globally every year, there are 380,000 new HIV infections among girls and young women aged 10-24, constituting almost 60 per cent of all new HIV infections. Fifteen per cent of all women living with HIV are aged 15-24. Clearly, our responses to HIV must address the needs of adolescent girls.

Addressing restrictive social norms that prevent women and girls from accessing sexual and reproductive health information and services and owning their sexual health is crucial. Concerted efforts are needed to change these gender norms and to make communities safe and supportive for young women and girls.

People living with HIV and key populations at risk also need to be empowered to help end stigma, discrimination and violence, advocate for removal of punitive laws, and increase access to justice and sexual and reproductive health services.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, supports greater investment in integrated HIV and sexual and reproductive health services, including for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission, and progress is being made. More focus is needed on HIV prevention, especially among young people, and on family planning for women living with HIV, which leads to fewer HIV-positive infants. HIV control and management continues to be a central plank of global strategies to improve women's, children's and adolescents' health.

We know what works and we know how to deliver evidence-informed prevention programmes - combining biomedical approaches, such as the provision of condoms and voluntary medical male circumcision; behaviour change so that people make informed choices about their sexual lives and practice safe sex; and structural change to tackle bad laws and policies, inequalities, violence, stigma and discrimination. Prevention champions play an important role - individuals who speak out and encourage communities to reduce their risk, take control and stop further transmission.

The Sustainable Development Goals call on us to leave no one behind. Investment is needed in local data and services to ensure that we reach the most vulnerable. We must invest in the holistic development of adolescents through education, health, employment and psychological well-being. We must ensure people in humanitarian crises, conflict and other emergency situations have access to an effective package of sexual and reproductive health services, including for prevention and treatment of HIV and STIs. We must intensify programming with key populations to reduce their HIV burden and protect the whole community.

UNFPA continues to support governments and community organizations to strengthen integrated maternal and child health services, as well as community-led responses. We support the human rights of key populations to live free of violence, stigma and discrimination and to freely access services in order to protect their health, the health of their sexual partners and dependents, and ultimately, of the whole community.

By focusing on what works, and by working together, we can end AIDS by 2030.