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The fight against HIV/AIDS must remain a top priority for the European Union. 39 million lives in the world have been lost to AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. Today, we must help more than 35 million people living with AIDS, mostly in developing countries. Still, impressive progress has been made over the past decade with an increasing number of people now having access to life-saving treatment.
The EU has been a steadfast supporter of developing countries in their efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS and improve the health of their citizens, with a special focus on women and children. We will continue to help our developing partners to strengthen their health systems and fight for the eradication of AIDS. The EU spends an average of €500 million of development funds on health every year, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa, the region most affected by the disease.
As a founding member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the European Commission has contributed to its significant results. We recognise the Global Fund as one of the most valuable tools at our disposal in fulfilling our commitment to combat HIV/AIDS. The EU has provided about half of all resources to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria so far, and will remain its largest collective donor.
HIV/AIDS is more than a health issue. It is also about human rights; it touches upon women’s and children’s rights and the right to education.
I am also grateful to civil society for the important role it plays in fighting the disease, both in raising awareness and in action on the ground.