“Ending the AIDS epidemic is a crucial part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ahead of the 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, which will take place from 8 to 10 June in the UN General Assembly. “The 2016 United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS can help close the gap between needs and services and advance our efforts to leave no one behind,” he added. Participants at the forum will include Governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, and communities of people living with and affected by HIV. In 2015, the global community delivered on the AIDS targets of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6 – which included halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic – marking the first time a global health target has been met and exceeded. Indeed, data show that the number of people accessing antiretroviral therapy more than doubled to an estimated 17 million from 2010 to 2015, according to the Global AIDS Update 2016 recently released by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The lessons learned in responding to HIV will be crucial to achieving many of the SDGs – a universal set of targets adopted in 2015 that build on the MDGs and which are being used as a framework for the agendas of UN Member States over the next 15 years – and particularly SDG 3, which focuses on good health and well-being and calls for, in particular, ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. An integral part of achieving that target will require countries to take a fast-track approach during the next five years in order to ensure that global efforts are accelerated during that time, as highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report, On the fast track to ending the AIDs epidemic. “We are at a unique moment in history,” stressed UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. “Over the next five years we have a window of opportunity to shift gear and put the global HIV response firmly on the fast-track to end the AIDS epidemic. This meeting will be critical to harnessing the momentum we have built since 2011 and securing global commitment to break the epidemic for good,” he added. At the High-Level Meeting, UN Member States are expected to draft a new political declaration on Ending AIDS that will include a set of time-bound targets to scale up the pace of progress. They will use the zero draft of the political declaration as a basis of negotiations. Peer educator discusses HIV/AIDS prevention and other STDs in Barangay Don Carlos, a poor neighbourhood in Pasay City, Philippines. Photo: UNICEF The meeting will feature a series of four panels as well as a number of side events and round tables covering diverse topics. Participants will take into account analysis of global data showing that the world has a window of opportunity in which to deliver focused and effective action by fully funding and front-loading HIV investment. Countries and the private sector must come together to increase overall investment in HIV prevention and treatment from the $19 billion available in 2014 to $26 billion annually by 2020. At the same time, investment in outreach services that ensure that key populations have access to HIV prevention, care and treatment in low- and middle-income countries must increase to about seven per cent of total HIV investment in 2020. The UNAIDS Fast-Track approach to the AIDS response during the next five years will aim for achieving such targets as fewer than 500,000 people newly infected with HIV; fewer than 500,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses; and eliminating HIV-related discrimination. “I call on all United Nations Member States to unite at the high-level meeting on ending AIDS. Together we can fast-track the end of the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” said Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly, which is hosting the meeting. The meeting will be co-facilitated by Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN, and Patricia Mwaba Kasese-Bota, Permanent Representative of Zambia to the UN. Ahead of the high-level meeting, a global meeting of mayors on ending AIDS in cities by 2030 is being held at the New York Public Library today. The event, featuring Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, and about 30 other mayors from major cities, was convened in collaboration with UNAIDS and the Fast-Track cities partners, the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care. Tomorrow, 7 June, an event on HIV and Security: Past, Present and Future, will be held at UN Headquarters in New York, will focus on achieving the Fast-Track targets as well as gender-based violence prevention in humanitarian emergencies and conflict situations. On Wednesday, 8 June, an event on Delivering an AIDS-free generation, also to be held in New York, will highlight the achievements of the Global Plan towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections among Children by 2015 and Keeping their Mothers Alive and priority actions to fast-track that response and the goal of ending paediatric AIDS by 2020. Also on Wednesday, another event to be held in New York, on Breaking the silos: integrated services for adolescent girls and young women, will showcase examples of adolescent-centred policies and programmes and establish commitment to mobilize stakeholders and resources for responses, particularly towards adolescent girls.