Read on his behalf by the Deputy Prime Minister Senator Themba Masuku





Your Royal Highnesses


Honourable Ministers

Members of both Houses of Parliament

Your Excellency United States Ambassador

United Nations Resident Coordinator

Representatives of the United Nations family

Chairperson and members of the NERCHA Council

Executive Director of NERCHA and Staff

Civil Society representatives

Managing Director of Ubombo Sugar

People Living with HIV

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my honour, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, to welcome you all here today for the commemoration of the 30th World AIDS day. I am unable to attend in person due to an assignment that has taken me out of the country and the Deputy Prime Minister has agreed to read my remarks.

We join the rest of the world today to reflect and reaffirm our determination to work together in the response to HIV and AIDS.

We are delighted to observe that as a country, we have not only reversed the spread of HIV but are firmly on the path to epidemic control. I applaud all of you for the great work you have made towards this remarkable achievement. His Majesty’s Government remains committed to providing continuous leadership to the HIV and AIDS multisectoral response on the bedrock of outstanding positive progress.

May I express my profound gratitude to Their Majesties who personally committed and provided wise leadership to the HIV and AIDS response and thus created an enabling environment for all the positive progress made thus far.

The theme for World AIDS day 2018 is “know your HIV status”. The focus is on revitalizing the benefits of knowing your HIV status and the importance of accessing the relevant services. The theme is meant to mobilise all of us to overcome fear and stigma and to test and know our individual HIV status. This will intensify the country’s efforts towards the attainment of the 95.95.95 target. To achieve an AIDS free generation we need to ensure that 95% who are HIV are tested and know their status, that 95% of those who tested positive are enrolled on treatment and that 95% of those on treatment are virally suppressed. Achieving this goal will ultimately lead to the national goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

It is encouraging to learn that women have been leading in testing for HIV. May I call upon all men and boys to take advantage of available testing services, including the recently introduced self testing technologies, to know their status. Ningasaleli emuva bobabe. Asisatini simo setfu sengati sitawuphila, sivikele siphindze sondle ngalokufanele imindeni yetfu. Without your full participation it will be a struggle to end AIDS Eswatini.

Evidence indicates that adolescent girls and young women are the most vulnerable to HIV infection. May I encourage you to take charge of your lives and protect yourselves from risky behaviours. Take advantage of information that is at your disposal to empower yourselves.

The success we have achieved as a country is a result of the rigorous action and partnership between Government, communities, civil society, private sector, the Church as well as the generosity of our development partners including the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tubercolosis and Malaria, the European Union, the United Nations agencies in the country and other bilateral partners with civil society actors.

I would like to express my gratitude to our development partners who have relentlessly provided technical and financial support in most trying times. We wouldn’t have reached this stage without their unwavering support. Allow me to also appreciate the role played by communities in addressing issues of HIV and AIDS. I implore community leaders to continue the good work of providing a protective and productive environment for the people of our country.

His Majesty’s Government has made efforts to safeguard the Social Sectors within which the HIV response is resourced despite the fiscal challenges we are faced with and we have an obligation to do so until AIDS is completely eliminated. It is inspiring to note that the country has improved access to education for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC). Government recognizes the role played by education as a protective barrier for children and will continue to improve the quality of education.

The widespread reports of increasing gender based violence is quite disheartening in a country with a citizenry that prides itself of being kind, loving and respectful towards each other. Let us join hands and wipe it out completely. The response to HIV and AIDS is closely related to gender based violence and these two epidemics must be controlled.

It is worth noting that over 800 000 of citizens are HIV negative. Let us all ensure that their negative status is maintained. Moreover there is a need to reduce the number of people getting infected annually estimated at 7000. This has to be decreased at least by 85% by 2022.

Ladies and gentlemen, although the country has made remarkable progress in the response to HIV, it is critical to comprehend that the response still has to be heightened. The Kingdom of Eswatini has set an ambitious vision of ending AIDS by 2022, eight years ahead of the rest of the world. Strategies on how to reach this vision are clearly articulated in the National Strategic Framework on HIV 2018 – 2023 referred to as the “last mile”. I implore us all to embrace the task ahead of us and put a formidable multisectoral response that will result in the country achieving its vision within the set timeframe.

Let us walk this “last mile” together and make a difference in our communities and country. After all, HIV is our collective concern, “Yindzaba Yetfu Sonkhe” .

Thank you. May God bless us all.

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