President’s Message on World AIDS Day 2021 - End Inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics
30 November 2021 | Health
On 1st December every year, we remember all our Seychellois brothers and sisters living with HIV or AIDS and those who have died from AIDS.
The commemoration of this 33rd World AIDS Day reminds us once again that we are still facing that major public health challenge, despite new challenges.
Like the rest of the world, Seychelles is experiencing more than one pandemic at this critical time. HIV infection is a pandemic too. It has not gone away. It did not take a break when COVID-19 arrived.
Whatever progress we made in trying to end the AIDS pandemic could now be at risk of being lost as we divert attention to COVID-19. Let us think about that for a moment. Let us think also about the people still putting themselves at risk through their actions or omissions and how the right actions at the right time can reduce or even eliminate the risks. Like COVID-19 prevention, HIV prevention depend primarily on the individual.
In June this year, I joined other heads of state and heads of governments in committing our country to the new United Nations political declaration on HIV and AIDS for ending inequalities and getting us on track to end AIDS by 2030.
The 2020 report from our National AIDS Council is clear. Our local response to the AIDS pandemic has been heavily impacted by COVID-19. The 2021 statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that every month, on average, we lose two lives to AIDS. In 2021, from January to September alone, we lost 19 people from AIDS; three of them had COVID-19 as a concurrent disease.
Despite significant progress made, some people in Seychelles living with HIV still face stigma and discrimination as they get on with their lives in the community. We need a whole-of-society approach to address their plight and I am committed to lead from the front.
This World AIDS Day, let us remind ourselves that inequalities felt by one group should concern all of us, no matter who we are.
We are blessed that in Seychelles we have free access to HIV related health care and support. I would like take this opportunity to call upon our fellow citizens who have been diagnosed with HIV, to please continue taking their treatment and doing their regular health check-ups. I also call on them, today, to please be vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccination is, for everyone, a proven insurance policy against severe COVID illness and even death from COVID. Above all, never give up on yourselves.
Among the good news this year, I am happy to note that those working in the HIV and AIDS response in Seychelles - the government entities as well as the non-governmental organisations - have valiantly soldiered on despite COVID-19. HIV testing has continued. There are more people on HIV treatment now than ever before, the human rights of our Seychellois infected or affected by HIV and AIDS are getting greater attention every day.
Let us live in the hope that soon there will be a vaccine against HIV. Let us pray for a world without COVID-19, without AIDS, without inequalities, and without epidemics and pandemics.