Ambassador Lynch delivers remarks at World AIDS Day Observance Ceremony

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
World AIDS Day Observance Ceremony
December 1, 2021

Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of the Media,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning. As we commemorate World AIDs Day this year, I would like to start by thanking the Minister and his team for the hard work they have done over the past decade and a half to fight HIV/AIDS.  As the global community – represented by many of my colleagues here today – continues its efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not forget the persistent challenge of the global HIV epidemic, now entering its fifth decade.  Last year, 1.5 million people were infected with HIV and nearly 700,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses worldwide.  These figures have declined markedly from their historic peaks — largely thanks to the U.S. government’s strong bipartisan global AIDS leadership and investment — but HIV continues to take a devastating toll on millions of people worldwide.

Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States has helped Guyana fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic with over $185 million U.S. dollars since 2004. In 2021, the U.S. Government committed an additional $1.5 million U.S. dollars to assist Guyana in its continued efforts to address HIV/AIDS.

The U.S. government’s theme for World AIDS Day 2021 is “Ending the HIV Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice.”  This theme reflects the U.S. government’s strong bipartisan commitment to ending the HIV epidemic globally and in the United States.  It further highlights PEPFAR’s ongoing efforts to assist countries in achieving sustained epidemic control of HIV by supporting equitable health services and solutions, enduring national health systems and capabilities, and lasting collaboration.  It also conveys PEPFAR’s deep commitment to ensure that the diverse voices of all affected ages, ethnicities, genders, and population groups are heard and valued in the global AIDS response.

PEPFAR-supported programs have safely ensured access to HIV services, including core prevention services that were affected by early COVID-19 mitigation measures.  Many of these HIV prevention programs have since expanded significantly, while keeping clients and staff safe from COVID-19. Just last week there were representatives here from the Centers for Disease Control, engaged in training front line workers.

Through our partnership with the Ministry of Health, Guyana has made significant strides in combatting HIV. The country has diagnosed 94 percent of people living with HIV, surpassing the “first 90” UNAIDS target, and I applaud those tremendous efforts.

The PEPFAR program is committed to ensuring that all at-risk populations know their HIV status and receive life-saving HIV services. This means focusing on quality, inclusive, and client-centered care – meeting patients where they are, with what they need.

The U.S. Government, through our PEPFAR program, will continue to work closely with the Ministry, and civil society partners to ensure funds and programs are targeting key populations, specifically those most affected by HIV.

Thank you very much.