Your Excellency Dr. Tiago, Minister of Health
Your Excellency Vicente Joaquim, Secretary of State
Your Excellency Dr. Francisco Mbofana, Executive Secretary of the National AIDS Council (Conselho Nacional do Combate ao SIDA – CNCS)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning! On behalf of the United States Embassy in Mozambique, it is my distinct honor to be here with you on World AIDS Day. Today is a day to re-commit ourselves to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is also a day to honor the many people who lost their lives to AIDS here in Mozambique and all over the world.
This year we focus on “Achieving Equality and Equity in the HIV/AIDS Response.” But what does that mean? Around the world, people living with HIV/AIDS are targets of discrimination. And around the world, marginalized communities including the LGBTQI+ community, vulnerable women and girls, sex workers, prisoners and drug users face many barriers to seek and receive health services. But as our campaign reminds us, “somos iguais.” All people have an equal right to access HIV prevention resources. All must be granted equal access to HIV treatment, without stigma. And all should have equal access to HIV testing.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in 2023, the United States will mark 20 years of work to combat HIV/AIDS through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. Through PEPFAR’s $400 million dollars of annual investment, and decades of close partnership with the Government of Mozambique and other collaborators, we have much to celebrate, even as we mourn those who lost their lives.
Twenty years ago, less than one in ten people Mozambique had ever been tested for HIV. Fewer than 5,000 were receiving treatment for HIV. 167 Mozambicans died from AIDS every single day, leaving behind devastated families and communities. When people considered getting tested for AIDS, there was paralyzing fear about the possible results.
Today, almost 2 million Mozambicans are living full lives with antiretroviral medication. Today, every Mozambican who tests positive for HIV can immediately begin treatment, for free. We have moved from solely preventing deaths in our HIV/AIDS response, to helping people to live full, productive, longer lives.
Twenty years ago, the average Mozambican lived until about 50 years old. Today, the average life expectancy is 61 years old. Those who are HIV-positive and taking their medication daily without interruption live full and productive lives. They are LGBTQI+. They are sex workers. They are drug users. They are our neighbors. They are our colleagues. They are our friends. They are our family. They are strong and they are healthy.
Your Excellency, President Nyusi: It is a special privilege to be with you on the eve of this 20-year milestone of health partnership between Mozambique and the United States. We are proud to recommit the United States to work together with Mozambique to provide equal and equitable access to HIV/AIDS services throughout the nation.
Ladies and gentlemen, today we hear the results of a nationwide study on HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, sponsored in part by the U.S. government. This study highlights our successes in the fight against this disease. But it also shows us where we need to do more to finally usher in an AIDS-free generation.
I look forward to our continued work together. We are stronger together. And together, we will continue to make a difference.
Thank you very much.