Yury Fedotov

Director-General/Executive Director

Message on World AIDS Day

1 December 2012


World AIDS Day is a day for the expression of international solidarity with every person affected by HIV. A day on which we gather to reaffirm our commitment to reaching the HIV and AIDS goals agreed by the global community.

And our resolve is needed. We find ourselves at a decisive moment in the history of this pandemic. We are starting to shape our future response to AIDS through proven scientific tools such as male circumcision, and a comprehensive package of interventions for people who inject drugs, including community-based   drug dependence treatment.

In some countries, HIV epidemics are levelling off with a decreasing number of new infections over the past ten years. Today, the global community finds itself in the position of discussing the implications of HIV for development, as well as shaping the post-2015 agenda.

These achievements, however, must be seen in context. Regrettably, there are still  increases of HIV infections among drug users, and we are seeing new epidemics in countries where traditionally the epidemics were not driven by unsafe drug use. There is also a marked reluctance by countries to address the very severe epidemics in prisons and other closed settings.

Through the UNAIDS family, we are providing countries with a framework which shows that it makes sense to continue investing in the AIDS response, based on the principles of shared responsibility and "Know your epidemics." Interventions for key populations, including drug users and people in prisons, could be game changers.

Halting and reversing the spread of HIV among drug users and in prisons remains an important but ambitious target. I remain optimistic that it can be done. HIV epidemics among drug users and in prison populations are avoidable and can be reversed. We have all the tools in hand, but using them requires bold and courageous responses based on evidence-based approaches, human rights and gender equity, particularly if measures for key populations, including injecting drug users, are to be put into place.

UNODC stands ready to assist by providing countries with technical assistance, and the means to create a favourable political and legal environment for evidence-based prevention and treatment options. I appeal to countries and their leaders not to neglect their key populations such as female sex workers, men who have sex with men, prisoners and injecting drug users. If we fail, we will not be able to end HIV and AIDS.