A nurse holding a cyro vial containing the serum from an individual that will be sent for HIV testing Noel Celis/Getty Images

The Right to Health Is Universal

On this year's World AIDS Day, millions of people with HIV still do not have access to life-saving treatment, while millions more do not even know that they have the disease. This is a grave injustice, and it speaks to an even larger problem around the world: health is not being afforded the protection it deserves as a fundamental human right.

GENEVA – On this year’s World AIDS Day, on December 1, we should remember the 35 million people who have died of AIDS-related illnesses, and the 76 million who have been infected with HIV since reporting began. And we can celebrate the fact that nearly 21 million people living with HIV now have access to life-saving treatment.

But we also must not lose sight of the fact that more than 15.8 million people are still awaiting treatment, while an estimated 11 million people do not even know they have the virus. In the time it takes to read this commentary, three more young women will have contracted HIV. These figures represent an indefensible injustice: millions of people are being denied their right to health.

The third United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG3) addresses health. It aims to reduce road accidents; tackle non-communicable diseases; end AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases; guarantee universal health coverage and access to sexual and reproductive health-care services; and substantially reduce deaths from environmental pollution – all by 2030.