35 world leaders to attend HIV/AIDS meeting in New York

New York, US (PANA) - Not fewer than 35 world leaders and other high-level figures will participate in next week’s UN meeting on combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) announced on Wednesday.

``At least 35 heads of State, heads of government or vice-presidents have committed to participating in the three-day event, beginning on 8 June,'' UNAIDS said in a statement,

PANA reports that the high-level meeting will be held from 8-10 June at the UN headquarters in New York.

The agency described the number as a positive signal that the international community was committed to meeting the goals on HIV/AIDS prevention and care ``at this critical time''.

It noted that, ``more people than ever before are living with HIV, but international funding for AIDS is seen to be declining''.

``The commitment we are seeing for this meeting from world leaders is an extremely positive signal and is coming at a critical time,” Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS Executive Director, stated.

He said: ``This meeting will provide a real opportunity for countries to take ownership of the response and produce a strong and visionary declaration to guide global efforts in reaching universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2015''.

He also said that, ``the top-level leaders will join ministers and other UN member state representatives to commit to new ways forward in responding to AIDS''.

``There will also be strong participation from civil society and other actors from the AIDS movement who will join discussions on how to take the AIDS response to the next level,'' Sidibe added.

``Significant progress has been made in reducing numbers of new HIV infections, in accessing treatment, in reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths and in addressing stigma and discrimination.

``However, if efforts in responding to the epidemic are not sustained and scaled-up, the important results which have been accomplished risk being reversed,'' the UNAIDS chief stated.

PANA learnt that negotiations have already begun on the text of the final declaration which is expected to be adopted on the last day of the meeting.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 1June2011

01 june 2011 14:16:29




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