A student displays his face and hand painted with messages during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign on the occasion of World AIDS Day in Chandigarh, India, Dec. 1, 2017. (Xinhua/REUTERS)
UNITED NATIONS, June 12 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday asked for continued efforts toward the elimination of AIDS despite good momentum in the fight against the epidemic.
The world is making good progress toward ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. But progress is uneven and fragile, Guterres told the UN General Assembly.
On all continents, key populations at higher risk of infection continue to be left further and further behind. And young women remain unacceptably vulnerable where prevalence is high, he noted.
The UN chief asked authorities to empower young people to protect themselves from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS.
This includes providing a full range of sexual and reproductive health services and rights, harm reduction for people who use drugs, and access to anti-retroviral treatment for young people living with HIV, he said.
Guterres stressed that prevention is the key to breaking the cycle of HIV transmission.
The United Nations' 2020 prevention roadmap focuses explicitly on adolescent girls, young women and key populations at risk. This sharpened focus on human rights, key populations and gender equality is essential, he said.
Greater leadership and investment must follow suit to remove the social and political barriers that keep so many beyond the reach of necessary services, he said.
The world has made steady progress in HIV prevention. More people have access to HIV testing and treatment. Access to anti-retroviral therapy has expanded by more than 20 million people since 1990. As mother-to-child transmission continues to decline and fewer children are living with HIV, we are moving closer to bringing about an AIDS-free generation, said Guterres.
"At this pivotal moment, we must renew our focus and shared commitment to a world free of AIDS. The pandemic is not over, but it can be. We must all do our part," he said.