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Message To Commemorate World AIDS Day - 01st December 2014

Sun, 30 November 2014

Today marks the 27th anniversary of International World AIDS Day, a day when countries the world over stand together in solidarity, reflect on the progress being made in the relentless fight against HIV and AIDS, and evaluate its unprecedented impact on individuals, families and communities.

It is also a day on which we gather to reaffirm our commitment to reaching the HIV and AIDS goal agreed by the global, regional and national communities: Getting to Zero by 2030.

In memory of those we love and care, it is also a day where we honour and commemorate those who have lost their lives and have succumbed to AIDS and its related complications.

Unfortunately, this year, we have recorded the highest number of AIDS related deaths: 17 in total.

Seventeen families today mourn the loss of a loved one, a mother, a father, a brother or sister, even a child.  We remember them in a special way and reaffirm our commitment to our HIV and AIDS response to achieve:

•            Zero new HIV infections;
•            Zero deaths associated with HIV; and
•            Zero stigma and discrimination.

The theme of World AIDS Day 2014 is "Close the Gap". This theme will not only make leaders and service providers more attentive to their obligations, but also ensure that the needs of our population are met. In Seychelles, we are launching on this occasion our "Test and Treat campaign for HIV and AIDS". In particular, we need to reach out to our most at risk populations to ensure early access to treatment and support where required.

We have to acknowledge that we face major challenges in the reduction of HIV prevalence and AIDS in our country. We need to do much more to step up our harm reduction strategies and save our youth from certain death from Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS, arising from unsafe sexual conduct and the use of illicit drugs.

We need to do much more to consolidate and reinforce the advances we have made to reach our target of an HIV/AIDS-free society. This requires on-going political and strategic leadership across all sectors, especially stronger collaboration with the private sector, transparent and sustainable partnerships with developmental partners, and an engaged and active civil society.

Such partnerships will enable us to strengthen our comprehensive, multisectoral response that is already bearing fruit in diverse areas. Our achievements thus far are commendable and include:

•      The Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme is the most cost-effective one in the national response to HIV and AIDS. It targets all women attending antenatal clinics and educational sessions.
•      Over 90% of patients who are on antiretroviral treatment have undetectable viral load; all our children aged less than 15 years who have HIV are on treatment.
•      There is no HIV transmission through blood transfusion, indicative of a high level of professionalism in the health system.
•      The harm reduction strategies for drug users to reduce HIV and hepatitis infections at our newly established Wellness Centre are now better established;
•      My Government continues to provide 90% of the financing of the national response to HIV/ AIDS and STIs, in particular, through the National AIDS Council, ensuring accessibility of funds by all in need.
•      We continue training a number of key health professionals and individuals as well as civil society so that they may adequately address various issues in HIV and AIDS.

However, we cannot afford to be complacent, and must continue to work much harder together in a harmonised manner. We must use resources efficiently and improve the effectiveness of our programmes through better co-ordination and planning across departments and sectors, integrated service delivery and systematic monitoring of all aspects of our HIV programmes. In this regard, the new National AIDS Council framework is providing more prominence to the activities and more leverage to coordinate the required multisectoral national response.

Today, we would like to specifically commend the Ministry of Health, through their dedicated staff for taking the lead in the HIV/AIDS Response, not only into the prevention, treatment care and support, but also into the National Coordination of the Response. I also take this opportunity to thank all other relevant stakeholders, partners, funders who have been instrumental in enabling our country to contain the infection.

The commemoration of World AIDS Day 2014 is a recognition of the extraordinary progress we have made and an important reminder that the most profound challenge still remains before us:  to end this devastating epidemic...to truly "closing the gap".

This is possible and attainable. And my Government is committed to closing the gap.

On this World AIDS Day, let us once again join together, government, the private sector, faith-based organisations, civil society and individuals, to close the gap and end AIDS by 2030.

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