Volkan Bozkir, president of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, said Tuesday AIDS is an epidemic of inequalities.

“Put simply: AIDS is an epidemic of inequalities. If we are to end AIDS by 2030, we must end inequalities,” he told a high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS.

“If we are to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, all member states must re-commit to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Ending AIDS is both a prerequisite and a result of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. From ending poverty, to ensuring good health and well-being for all, to gender equality,” he said.

Last year half of the people newly infected with HIV around the world were women and girls. Six out of every seven new HIV infections among young people, aged between 15-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, were girls. Young women are twice as likely to be living with HIV as young men. This is unacceptable, said Bozkir.

Every girl and every woman must be free to exercise their fundamental human rights, to make their own decisions, to live a life free from fear of gender-based violence, to be treated with dignity and respect. All girls should have equal access to quality education.

This is the foundation for a society where women feel safe to take their rightful place in the workplace, public life, politics, and decision-making, he said.

“We must take urgent action to ensure equal access to treatment if we are to prevent the 12 million people, who are now living with HIV, from dying of AIDS-related causes. We must end stigma and discrimination, once and for all. If we are to end AIDS by 2030, we must take action today,” said Bozkir.

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