Statement from the President of Ireland / Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins and Patron of HIV Ireland, for World AIDS Day 2020

Tuesday 1st December 2020

Each year, on World AIDS Day, we are given an opportunity to reflect on the impact that HIV and AIDS are having on people all over the world.

Today, on 1 December, let us do so again, in the full knowledge that all those who have been affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and all those who through their care, their advocacy or their support services are addressing the epidemic, will have been profoundly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The spread of the Covid-19 virus, and the world’s response to it, have widened inequalities and threaten to reverse much of the progress made towards achieving health and wellbeing for all.

The lessons learned over the past decades, such as those the world learned in the struggle to combat the spread of HIV through a caring, informed and inclusive response, must serve to inform our response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We must not repeat those mistakes of the global response to HIV/AIDS that left millions of poor people without access to treatment and which took far too long to take existing vulnerabilities and discriminatory practices into account.

Today, on World AIDS Day, let us commit to tackling the Covid-19 virus on the basis of the principles of solidarity, care, compassion and inclusion, that will ensure equity of access to health care solutions, and break down the social inequalities that put so many vulnerable people at risk.

[This statement was first published here.]