Negotiations Begin at UN on Global Plan to Combat AIDS

New York- UN (PANA) -- Government delegates began week-long negotiations Monday in New York on a major document whose final form would be approved in June by world leaders at a special session of the UN General Assembly giving guidance to global efforts against HIV/AIDS.
One of the highlights of the draft document, known as the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, is a section dealing with guarantees and promotion of the rights of people living with the disease.
According to the proposed guidelines, all countries are to ensure that by 2003, existing national policies and legislations are reviewed to strengthen the protection of the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, eliminate discrimination against them and ensure that they have equal rights to education, employment and services.
The proposals also require national governments to ensure that by 2005 the rights of people living with the disease to information, quality care, support, confidentiality and privacy are respected.
The draft document further pushes for particular measures and strategies by 2005 to assist women exercise control over their sexuality and to protect themselves from the risk of infection and have access to reproductive health services.
In other areas, the document details actions that are required at the national, regional and international levels to achieve targets in the fight against AIDS.
As a necessary part of the fight against AIDS, the document stresses the importance of leadership at various levels especially in ensuring the development and implementation of strategies and financing plans for combating HIV/AIDS.
Equally emphasised are measures in prevention, care, support and treatment for those infected; reduction of vulnerability, assistance for children orphaned by AIDS, alleviation of the social and economic impact of the disease, research to find cure and vaccine and dealing with specific cases of areas in conflict.
Recognising the importance of resources in achieving set goals, the draft document calls for commitments at all levels to ensure that by 2005, the amount of between seven and 10 billion dollars is raised annually to help developing countries in their fight against the epidemic.
The ambassador of Senegal and one of two facilitators of negotiations for the special session holding 25 - 27 June , Ibra Deguene Ka said at a press conference at the UN Monday that the mobilisation of international resources for the fight against AIDS would be a special issue at the forthcoming meeting.
Ka said African countries had shown the way in this regard during their meeting in Abuja, Nigeria in April when they decided that at least 15 percent of national budgets be allocated to the fight against the AIDS epidemic.
Ambassador Penny Wensley of Australia, who is also a facilitator of the negotiations, said AIDS is a global problem that requires global action.
"AIDS is not just a health problem but a development catastrophe," she said, noting that the special session will offer opportunity for the international community to show their commitment to fighting the disease.
Peter Piot, Director of UNAIDS, the body that leads UN efforts on AIDS, said it took 20 years for the world to realise that AIDS was a global epidemic.
He said reports so far indicated that there were serious preparations at national levels for the coming session on AIDS.
Over 20 heads of state have already confirmed they would be attending the special session.
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria who, hosted the African conference on AIDS in Abuja is expected to present the African position at the UN session.

21 may 2001 23:37:00

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