Wednesday 20 September 2023

Celebrating Global HIV Progress to End AIDS and Advance the SDGs

 “Celebrating Global HIV Progress to End AIDS and Advance the SDGs”

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

UNGA high-level event

Wednesday September 20, 2023

Your Excellencies, dignitaries and friends in the fight against HIV and Aids, my respectful greetings and greatful thanks to all those Presidents, ministers and global leaders, who have accepted the invitation to be here. Your faith and your  commitment to end HIV by 2030 are good news. Your leadership is exactly the kind of commitment that God expects of each of us. Blessings.

Faith communities and faith-based organizations have been at the forefront of caring for children and adolescents living with and affected by HIV for decades.  Our faith demands  this act of mercy. Our faith in God, and our commitment made before God, do not allow us to let this priority be overtaken until the job is done.

Regardless of who we are, or who we love, or how we acquired HIV, we are all God’s children. Regardless of whatever new crises the world brings, we have made a commitment to end AIDS and fight for zero stigma and discrimination.

I want to direct a special appeal from Africa to the American people, to the Congress and the Administration. Beginning under the administration of President George W Bush, your nation's image in the eyes of Africans was vastly improved by PEPFAR. But now your image as a compassionate and caring nation threatens to be undermined in the coming months. 

PEPFAR is the most precious initiative ever delivered in the history of AIDS. Thanks to the bipartisan support of the US Congress, PEPFAR has saved millions of lives in Africa. And no American Programme has saved more lives of mothers and babies than PEPFAR. There is nothing more pro-life than PEPFAR. 

So, I pray that members of Congress will reauthorize PEPFAR for the next 5 years. If you do not, your image as a caring and compassionate nation will be replaced by one as purely a military power, moreover a military power primarily interested in Africa as a battleground in your fight against international terrorism. I cannot believe that is how you want to project yourselves to the world. 

But prayers alone are not enough. Commitments must lead to transformative action. We are not going to end AIDS all at once. In 2021, member states agreed here at the UN to end mother to child transmission of HIV and paediatric AIDS by 2025. That is only 2 years from now. We have a lot of urgent work to do. 

The faith community and faith-based organizations will continue to do our part. I ask you all to come out of this General Assembly with clear marching orders to do God’s work. 

  • Let us ensure no more infants are born with HIV. 
  • Let us ensure every child living with HIV has immediate access to treatment. 
  • Let us ensure they are alive and thriving to join us here in 2025 to mark the beginning of the end of AIDS.

Thank you and God bless you. 

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