World AIDS Day Message 2020
By Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
The U.S. has an unwavering commitment to the fight against HIV in Guyana. Diseases do not recognize borders, as HIV showed us long ago and now COVID-19 has so painfully underscored. And so it is fitting that this year’s World AIDS Day theme is “global solidarity, shared responsibility.”
Enhancing that strength and resilience of people living with HIV is at the heart of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, better known as PEPFAR. In 2003, then-President Bush signed legislation into law authorizing this historic program aimed at ending the HIV pandemic. Since then, more than 18 million lives have been saved thanks to PEPFAR.
Guyana was an original PEPFAR recipient country, and the U.S. Government has provided more than $185 million to combat HIV here. I am proud to share that we have committed to an additional two years of funding for Guyana, through 2022.
Via our partnerships with the government, faith-based organizations, civil society, and others, Guyana has made remarkable progress toward the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals. The country has achieved the first 90 – meaning more than 90 percent of people living with HIV have been diagnosed. We applaud this achievement.
To get across the finish line to epidemic control, we must focus on ensuring that everyone diagnosed with HIV has access to life-saving antiretroviral treatment. With medication, individuals can live long, healthy lives. The virus can be suppressed, meaning that it can’t be transmitted to others.
And we must root out all stigma and discrimination. PEPFAR is committed to ensuring that all ages, genders, and at-risk populations know their HIV status and receive life-saving HIV services. This means focusing on quality, inclusive, client-centered care – meeting patients where they are with what they need. It is our shared responsibility to honor the dignity of every individual.
Seventeen years ago, when PEPFAR began, HIV was a death sentence in many parts of the world. Now, for the first time in modern history, we have the opportunity to control a pandemic without a vaccine or a cure. We look forward to working with Minister Anthony to achieve this goal.
This World AIDS Day, we reflect, and we remember. On behalf of the United States Government and the American people, I pledge our continued support for a future free of HIV and AIDS in Guyana. Thank you.