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    30 Nov, 2021

    Statement by the SADC Executive Secretary, H.E. Mr Elias M Magosi, on the Commemoration of the World AIDS Day

    Each year, on 1st December, the nations of the World come together to commemorate World AIDS Day. The theme for the 2021 commemoration is 'End Inequalities, End AIDS'. This is an opportunity to remember our brothers, sisters, friends and all loved ones who have succumbed to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. It is also the time to reflect and take stock of our own successes and the challenges we face and how these can be addressed. Indeed, HIV and AIDS remains the epidemic of inequalities. While the most vulnerable people such as the youth, the less privileged, the poor and key populations continue to bear the brunt of the epidemic, in most countries, the majority of citizens can now access HIV services and lifesaving treatment such as Antiretroviral drugs.

    Fellow SADC Citizens, let us all come together and comprehensively address the barriers that we face within our Region, countries and communities, and achieve an AIDS-free generation.

    This year's commemoration is again taking place under trying circumstances, when the world continues the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and our Region is still under the imminent threat of the fourth wave of infections. The COVID-19 pandemic has diverted attention and resources from other life-threatening diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and others. We therefore need to find comprehensive and robust ways of addressing all these diseases in an integrated manner even during these times.

    The theme for this year's commemoration 'End inequalities, End AIDS', is an appeal to all to address economic, social, cultural, legal and other barriers which prevent equal access to health, HIV and other services in order to end all forms of inequalities that stand in the way towards ending AIDS.

    As we move towards our common promise to end AIDS by 2030, we must also acknowledge that there are social stereotypes that we must confront if we are to meet the ambitious goal of ending AIDS. As a Region, we need to take bold steps and address the following;
    - Gender Based Violence, which is one key driver of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in our Region. A few days ago in my statement on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, I underscored the importance of addressing gender based violence especially in humanitarian and emergency situations such as COVID -19 and all these three- Gender based violence, HIV and COVID-19 are manifesting as a triple epidemic which must be addressed squarely.

    - Social and legal barriers to ensure a conducive environment to deliver on the collective mandate to address HIV and AIDS in a comprehensive manner.

    - Access to comprehensive services for the most vulnerable, including Key Populations as well as Adolescents and Young Women

    - Combination Prevention through social, behavioural and biomedical interventions and finally;

    - Ensuring that we put the requisite resources behind all these interventions.

    These interventions will not only propel us towards 2030 but will also play a critical role in ring fencing and protecting the gains made in our collective effort to fight HIV and AIDS in the SADC Region. On this World AIDS Day 2021, I urge all SADC Member States to continue the relentless fight against HIV and AIDS and to ensure that we end inequalities as we move towards ending AIDS.

    I thank you.

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