World AIDS Day Message on December 1, 2011



Thirty years of AIDS have galvanised the international community into a remarkable and unprecedented response, which has resulted in a steady decline of new infections. Since 2001, the rate of new infections with HIV fell globally by nearly 25 per cent.

And the number of people treated with life-saving drugs has increased 22-fold. In December 2010, 6.6 million people in low and middle-income countries received highly active antiretroviral treatment. Children do not need to be born with HIV, if mothers are treated before and during child birth.

New research results also indicate that the early treatment of HIV infection can prevent the transmission of the virus to an uninfected partner. In this sense, treatment has become a strong means of HIV prevention.

In the field of drug use, a number of countries were able to reduce the rates of new infections among people who use drugs to virtually zero. Comprehensive prevention and treatment systems were put in place, using the entire armament of scientifically proven options.

In these countries, drug use is viewed as a condition requiring accessible health services and social protection. The successful strategy included treatment of drug dependence, welfare opportunities and HIV interventions in integrated and well coordinated facilities. Cooperation and partnerships with civil society organizations increased. Human rights were respected. The results speak for themselves.

Looking at these achievement and trends, in 2011, the UN General Assembly endorsed a strategy of reaching zero: Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS related deaths. This is not only an aspirational goal, data from various countries indicates that it is indeed possible. We know how to achieve it, because 30 years of AIDS have taught us what works.

I am aware that there remains a lot to do: Our data indicates that in some countries the incidence of HIV infection among injecting drug users continues to grow. HIV in prisons is a serious concern, there is a great need for prevention, criminal justice reform and addressing co-infections with tuberculosis and hepatitis. Trafficked persons, especially women and girls, who are exploited sexually or who suffer from sexual abuse, are particularly vulnerable to the risk of contacting HIV. Young people also need youth-friendly opportunities for prevention and treatment. Post-conflict countries are especially susceptible for HIV epidemics.

UNODC has a great number of highly qualified AIDS advisors in the field, ready to share their knowledge and experience with any country, if requested. Particularly in the area of drug use and in prisons, we are mandated by our governing bodies to assist countries. We stand ready to fulfil these mandates.

With today's knowledge and skills, every HIV infection is preventable, and being already infected does not need to be a death sentence. Working collectively we can achieve zero by the year 2015 everywhere in the world.


Yury Fedotov

Executive Director

United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime