75 UNGA: Statement by Dr. José Ángel Portal Miranda, Minister of Public Health of Cuba at the High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. New York, 9 June 2021.

Mr. President,

Twenty years after the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, inequalities in access to health not only persist, but in many nations they are increasing. This unjust scenario has been compounded by the negative impact of COVID-19, which affects the implementation of the global targets of the 2030 Agenda and imposes restrictions on their full achievement.

Amid these challenges, this meeting provides us with the opportunity to share the progress made and reaffirm our commitment to put an end to the AIDS epidemic, as a legacy for present and future generations.

Cuba has conceived the response to HIV with an approach based on Public Health, inserted in Primary Health Care, centered on people and with intersectoral participation and involvement of key populations, attending to the specific needs of each group.

In our country, AIDS-related death rate is progressively decreasing and the incidence of this disease shows a trend towards stabilization. One of the positive indicators is that people under fifteen years of age are virtually not affected by this epidemic.

In 2015, the World Health Organization granted us the status of the first country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and syphilis. Said status was revalidated in 2017 and 2019. Those purposes are currently fulfilled.

We are pleased to say that in 2019 and 2020, Cuba reported no case of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Among the several actions carried out in the country, we can highlight the implementation of a program for prevention, diagnostic and antiretroviral therapy. Approximately two million serology tests are performed annually; out of them, more than 300,000 are performed on pregnant women, with screening and antiretroviral therapy coverage exceeding 99 percent.

In addition, we have made steady progress in raising society´s awareness of the need to eliminate gender stereotypes and sexist patterns that disadvantage women. Today, among our population, there is more understanding and acceptance of sexual diversity and of people living with this disease. 

The implementation of the new Strategic Plan guarantees a better quality of life for people with HIV, as well as progressive decrease in new infections. Thus, we have achieved high treatment coverage and have made efforts to reduce the circulating viral load and increase therapeutic adherence, getting closer to the 90-90-90 targets.

Mr. President,

Even though the fight against COVID-19 has demanded an extraordinary effort of my country in all areas, in the midst of a suffocating economic war and the application of inhumane unilateral coercive measures that have limited our medical resources for the management of this and other diseases, nothing has prevented us from continuing to consolidate prevention actions and care for those who have been infected with AIDS.

In this scenario, Cuba renews its commitment to continue guaranteeing the enjoyment of the right to health by all our people and the global and regional response to HIV/AIDS.

Only integration, international solidarity and the joint action of our countries and governments will ensure success in the face of the HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 pandemics. In this way we will achieve an effective response to future health emergencies.

Thank you.