Media Centre

Statement by UNAIDS Latin America and Caribbean Regional Support Team Director, Dr César Núñez

November 30, 2017

This World AIDS Day highlights the importance of the right to health as an essential condition to achieve the end of AIDS by 2030, as set forth in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The right to health is a fundamental human right. It is the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

For the right to health to be fulfilled, it is imperative:

-that everyone, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or social status, has access to the prevention and treatment of any disease,
-that health is affordable or free,
-and that quality health services are free from discrimination.

The right to health goes beyond access to health services and medicines. It is also linked to a variety of important rights, such as access to a comprehensive and quality education, good nutrition and healthy working conditions.

Fulfilling the right to health enables everyone to fulfil their promise and their dreams.
Latin America and the Caribbean have made important progress towards the Fast-Track goals. Latin America is among the regions of the world with the highest proportions of people living with HIV who know their status and in the Caribbean, the proportion of people living with HIV who know their status and are on treatment is over 80%.

But we cannot be complacent:

– Not when there are still millions of people such as people living with HIV; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people; sex workers; indigenous populations and migrants, who do not have access to health services because of stigma and discrimination.
– Not when there are still young people and adolescents who are denied the possibility of making informed decisions about their health and well-being, because they do not receive the education they need.
-Not when there are women who, due to inequalities and gender violence, encounter barriers that prevent them from accessing comprehensive health services.

Inequities in access to health are not acceptable and have to be eradicated.  States have a duty to respect, protect and guarantee the right to health of their citizens.

AIDS is not over, but it could be if we make sure that everyone, without exception, anywhere in the world, can fully exercise their right to health.