Washington DC — Programme Director; Esteemed Fellow Speakers; Distinguished Delegates; Ladies and Gentlemen:
I wish to thank the organisers for inviting me to the 19th International AIDS Conference that aims to help all of us find better ways and means of responding to the HIV pandemic.
I would also like to express gratitude to the government and people of the United States of America for graciously hosting this conference and for their generous contribution to the fight against HIV through their contributions to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria.
The magnitude of this gathering shows that the HIV pandemic remains one of humanity's greatest challenges requiring a common front and commitment from all of us as demonstrated by thousands of delegates representing people living with HIV, health workers, scientists, philanthropists, volunteers and many others.
It is such commitment, solidarity and collective strength that will help us realise the theme of this 19th International AIDS Conference, namely 'turning the tide together'.
Ladies and gentlemen; Acknowledging that Sub-Saharan Africa remains the epicentre of the pandemic and further acknowledging the multi-dimensional nature of the pandemic and the social determinants driving it, the African Union (AU) has reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen the response on the continent through the adoption and the implementation of the AU roadmap.
The African Union Heads of State adopted a "Roadmap on Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity for AIDS, TB and Malaria Response in Africa" during their meeting last week.
This Roadmap will explore a set of practical African-sourced solutions for enhancing shared responsibility and global solidarity for AIDS, TB and malaria responses in Africa on a sustainable basis by 2015.
It will focus on three strategic pillars, that is - diversified financing; access to medicines; and enhanced health governance.
This landmark development demonstrates our commitment as Africans to scale up our collective efforts.
Since South Africa is the country with the largest number of people living with HIV in the world and the largest country in the most affected region, the global fight against HIV and AIDS cannot be won without success in South Africa.
In recent times the efforts that we have made, with support from development-partners are starting to bear fruits as evidenced by some of the successes we have seen over the last few years.
Among such achievements are the following:
1.7 million people are on treatment; 20 million people have been tested for HIV during our year long testing campaign; and The rate of mother to child transmission has dropped from 8% in 2008 to 3.5 per cent in 2010 and to 2.7 per cent in 2011.
These achievements are integral to the overall success story of Africa as elaborated in the latest UNAIDS Global Report.
Indeed we have achieved successes and great strides in the fight against HIV and AIDS over the last two decades. Yet these successes must neither distract us nor make us complacent.
More importantly, this is not the time to reduce our contribution to the fight against HIV and AIDS.
We are still faced with many challenges as we move from the emergency phase of our response to a phase of consolidation, scaling up and sustaining our multi-sectoral approach with a strengthened health system.
This consolidation phase requires a new approach, a new paradigm underpinned by, among others, the principles of global solidarity, mutual accountability and transparency.
To give effect to these principles stated above we need:
Better co-ordination of the global health architecture; Predictable, sustainable financing for the HIV response; Good governance and oversight with regard to appropriate use of resources; Decisive action in dealing with the social determinants of health; and Legal frameworks which are responsive to the human rights ethos.
Ladies and gentlemen; Science is making great strides in coming up with new innovation in treatment and prevention.
The question is how countries can be assisted to rapidly integrate and implement new innovations into their programmes in a sustainable manner.
I trust that as we deliberate on the wide range of issues exposed by the HIV pandemic, we will be invigorated by the successes and the progress we have made to date, bearing in mind that we can neither slow down nor be complacent.
The war is not yet over. We cannot declare victory yet - we are only just beginning to turn the tide!
A comprehensive, robust, decisive and sustainable response to HIV is like climbing a mountain. Twenty years ago we were at the foot of the mountain.
Our collective efforts, resilience and determination have brought us to within inches of the summit of the mountain. We dare not slide back!
We take this opportunity to thank all the health providers at the coalface of this pandemic, hoping that they will be encouraged by the emerging successes.
We count on civil society as strategic stakeholders to continue to keep governments accountable to the commitments they have made.
We urge the development partners, including foundations, philanthropists and investors, to maintain their investments in our efforts to turn the tide.
We look forward to concerted efforts by all partners to work with the AU and its members to implement this roadmap to ensure a sustainable response to HIV, TB and malaria.
Ladies and gentlemen; We have journeyed together through years of ignorance, confusion and despair, but also resolve, hope and some spectacular results. A future of zero new infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero new infections due to vertical transmission is within tantalizing reach.
Let us reach it together!!!!!
I thank you