World AIDS Day 2020: Global solidarity, shared responsibility
By: Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Representative To The United Nations
World AIDS Day, commemorated each December 1st since 1988, falls during the Church’s season of Advent, a time marked by waiting, hoping and staying alert as we long for our Messiah’s coming. Similarly, we await the coming of solutions to end HIV AIDS by making treatment available to all. As a global crisis, the HIV AIDS epidemic requires a coordinated multilateral response to find solutions in research and development, medical care, drug production and distribution, technology, financing, education and awareness and other factors. Recognizing the vital message of multilateralism, UNAIDS, the UN’s specialized agency, has chosen “Global solidarity, shared responsibility” as the 2020 World AIDS Day theme. UNAIDS is the nexus of this collaborative response, joining the world’s nations with 11 UN agencies —UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank – to achieve the goal of “zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths” and ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
While COVID-19 has dominated global health attention and resources in 2020, we must not lose sight of the fact that, in 2019, 38 million people lived with HIV, more than 12 million waited for HIV treatment, and 1.7 million people became infected with HIV. According to UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, the same systemic inequalities exacerbate both HIV AIDS and COVID-19: gender inequality, racial inequality, social and economic inequalities. The gains, lessons and responses achieved for HIV AIDS apply equally to COVID-19 and call for our joint advocacy: responsible, equitable and compassionate access to a vaccine, ensuring that those at risk of being left behind are first in line, financing for research, development and distribution, addressing existing inequalities and protecting the most vulnerable from stigma and injustice. As Episcopalians, we are positioned and well-equipped to pray, advocate and act to take up that shared responsibility. Our flame of Advent hope continues to burn steadily for those living with, lost to or striving to end HIV AIDs.
The Office of Government Relations