UN chief urges 'bold' action on global AIDS response

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on Thursday urged world leaders to take bold decisions to tackle the AIDS epidemic, warning that, "recent gains, while laudable, are fragile".

Ban made the charge at the launch of a new UN report on AIDS, entitled: "Uniting for universal access: towards zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths''.

The report came 30 years into the AIDS epidemic and just months ahead of a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly in June on the issue.

Speaking at the launch in Nairobi, Kenya, the secretary-general said: "world leaders have a unique opportunity at this critical moment to evaluate achievements and gaps in the global AIDS response."

A copy of his speech, made available to PANA in New York, quoted the UN chief as saying that, "we must take bold decisions that will dramatically transform the AIDS response and help us move towards an HIV-free generation."

According to him: "The HIV response faces a moment of truth. This year, we have a unique opportunity to take stock of progress and to critically and honestly assess the barriers that keep us shackled to a reality in which the epidemic continues to outpace the response," he stated.

He recommended five actions in the report to strengthen the AIDS response, including harnessing the energy of young people for an HIV prevention revolution and revitalizing the push towards achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by
2015.

The UN chief also recommended working with countries to make HIV programmes more cost effective, efficient and sustainable, promoting the health, human rights and dignity of women and girls and ensuring mutual accountability in the AIDS response to translate commitments
into action.

Ban also called on all stakeholders to support the recommendations in the report and use them to work towards realizing six global targets.

According to him, "the first is to reduce by 50 per cent the sexual transmission of HIV, including among key populations, such as young people, men who have sex with men, in the context of sex work and prevent all new HIV infections as a result of injecting drug use.

``The other goals are to eliminate HIV transmission from mother to child, reduce by 50 per cent tuberculosis deaths in people living with HIV, ensure HIV treatment for 13 million people, reduce by 50 per cent the number of countries with HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence and ensure equal access to education for children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS,'' he noted.

Ban also added that, "the report encourages countries to prioritize funding for HIV programmes, especially in light of the fact that international funding for HIV assistance declined for the first time in 2009."

Also, Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said: "thirty years into the epidemic, it is imperative for us to re-energise the response today for success in the years ahead.

"Gains in HIV prevention and antiretroviral treatment are significant but we need to do more to stop people from becoming infected – an HIV prevention revolution is needed now more than ever,”Sidibe charged.

The report, based on data from 182 countries, highlighted that the global rate of new HIV infections is declining, treatment access is expanding and the world has made significant strides in reducing HIV transmission from mother to child.

It said: "for example, between 2001 and 2009, the rate of new HIV infections in 33 countries – including 22 in sub-Saharan Africa – fell by at least 25 per cent," adding that, "by the end of 2010, more than six million people were on antiretroviral treatment in low- and middle-income countries and for the first time, in 2009, global coverage of services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV exceeded 50 per cent."

However, despite these achievements, the report, noted that, "the gains are fragile," advocating that  "for every person who starts antiretroviral treatment, two people become newly infected with HIV and everyday 7,000 people are newly infected, including 1,000 children.''
-0- PANA AA/BOS 31March2011

31 march 2011 15:54:32




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