UN: 'We must leave no one behind to end AIDS by 2030' - Ban says

New York, US (PANA) - Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 requires a comprehensive approach
that includes social justice, the democratization of science, gender equity, and a people-centred approach to health, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on World AIDS Day.

In a message on the Day, marked annually on 1 December, Ban explained that although some
35 million people worldwide are living with HIV, while 19 million do not even know they
have the virus, "tremendous" gains have been made over the years in fighting the virus.

"The legacy of the AIDS response is already apparent as we confront Ebola in
West Africa. We know that medical systems alone are not enough to provide robust health
care," he stated. "These are all lessons we have learned in the AIDS response that are being applied across the board, including in our discussions on the post-2015 development agenda."

The UN chief commended the commitment of world leaders this year to end AIDS epidemic by
2030 with a campaign called "Fast-Track".

Ban noted that a report on that goal released last week outlined a set of targets that would
need to be reached by 2020, including 90-90-90: 90 percent of people living with HIV knowing
their HIV status, 90 percent of people who know their HIV-positive status on treatment, and
90 percent of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads.

According to him: "We must leave no one behind, both in the regions and people who may
not have access to prevention, treatment and support services."

For instance, he said that in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East the number of AIDS cases was increasing mostly because of stigma, discrimination and punitive laws.

"Young women are particularly vulnerable in countries with high HIV prevalence, and the
essential work of community systems and support organizations often lacks support," he

Progress on AIDS eradication, however, is accelerating with almost 14 million people worldwide now accessing HIV treatment, while new HIV infections have been reduced by 38 percent since 2001 and some 1.16 million infections have been prevented among new-born babies by providing essential anti-retroviral medicines.

The UN chief added the world was also on track to provide anti-retroviral therapy to 15
million people by 2015 and to eliminate mother-to-child transmissions within the next few

On his part, Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS
(UNAIDS), said: "We have been able, together, to transform tragedy into opportunity,
break the conspiracy of silence, reduce the price of medicine, break the trajectory of the
AIDS epidemic and save millions of lives."

Sidibe, however, said that "now it is time to break the epidemic for good."

He stated: "We have a short five-year window of opportunity to reach the people who
are being left behind, people who have been denied their rights – young women and
adolescent girls, men who have sex with men, migrants, prisoners, sex workers and
people who inject drugs.

"For this to happen, health systems must be strengthened to provide essential services
to those who badly need them. Redoubling such efforts will fast-track actions and close
the gap people who have access to prevention, treatment, care and support and those
who are being left behind."

Sidibe also said that the current Ebola outbreak brought back memories of the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. "People were hiding and scared. Stigma and discrimination
were widespread, and there were no medicines and there was little hope," he said.

"However, that has changed thanks to global solidarity, social mobilization and the
hard work of civil society," he added.

As a part of the Day's commemoration, the World Health Organization (WHO) released
new guidelines on providing anti-retrovirals (ARVs) as an emergency prevention
following HIV exposure, and on the use of the antibiotic co-trimoxazole to prevent
HIV-related infections.

It said that the guidelines provide advice on providing ARVs as post-exposure
prophylaxis ("PEP") for people who have been exposed to HIV, such as health workers,
sex workers, and survivors of rape.

In 2013, WHO published consolidated guidelines on the use of anti-retrovirals that
promote earlier, simpler and less toxic interventions to keep people healthier for longer,
and to help prevent HIV transmission.

It also said that a growing number of countries with a high burden of HIV have adopted
these guidelines. In 2013, a record 13 million people were able to access life-saving

"But too many people still lack access to comprehensive HIV treatment and prevention
services. The 1 December supplement to the WHO consolidated guidelines on the use
of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection, released in June 2013,
aims to help bridge that gap," the UN health agency noted.

PANA reports that the World AIDS Day, launched in 1988 as the first-ever global health
day, also spotlighted this year the fact that worldwide two out of three children who
need HIV treatment do not get it.
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01 december 2014 18:56:18

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