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Brussels, 30 November 2012
Joint statement by Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg, and Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, on the occasion of World AIDS Day
On the eve of World AIDS Day, we re-affirm our commitment to fighting the HIV epidemic which continues to cause much suffering to people in Europe and around the world. We have made considerable progress in fighting HIV/AIDs but numbers are still alarming. Worldwide more than 34 million people live with HIV/AIDS. Only in 2011 in the European Union and European Economic Area countries, over 28,000 people were newly infected with HIV/AIDS.
Worldwide, every day in 2011, 7,000 people got infected with HIV, 800 of whom were children. Three out of four people suffering from HIV/AIDS live in Sub-Saharan Africa. And while the number of new infections has decreased, the total number of people living with HIV continues to grow.
HIV/AIDS is not yesterday's news. It remains a serious health and social threat. In Europe, one in three people with HIV/AIDS are not aware of their condition. Many live in fear of discrimination, do not get tested, nor treated. This is why we need to keep up the momentum and pursue our work to help prevent HIV/AIDS, diagnose it early in the process, and provide treatment to all the people who need it. We will build on recent work focused on testing and prevention amongst the most vulnerable groups, on helping the prevention and diagnosis of HIV in Central and South Eastern Europe, and on our support to EU Member States in need.
We must fight both the virus and the stigma and discrimination attached to it, which further marginalises people who live with HIV/AIDS. We will remain vigilant so that the economic crisis does not have a negative impact on the fight against HIV/AIDS in Europe, in particular on the availability and access to prevention and treatment.
We are encouraged by the positive results of the global fight against the epidemic.
The European Commission and the Member States have been playing a pivotal role in this respect. The EU is, and will remain, a major donor to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Almost 4 million people received life-saving antiretroviral treatment in developing countries thanks to the Global Fund's work. In addition the EU has supported social organizations at country level to help run their HIV control activities - starting from strengthening pharmaceutical systems to supporting networks to provide testing, counselling and care services. But with another 7 million people who do not have access to antiretroviral treatment, major challenges lie ahead of us.
The Commission will remain at the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS and against the discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS. Together with specialised European agencies, we will continue to work with partner countries, Member States, civil society and international partners to implement the Commission strategies to combat HIV/AIDS in Europe and in the world.