UN hails gains in combating HIV/AIDS, urges more action on 'zero discrimination'

New York, US (PANA) - UN officials have welcomed the ''solid progress'' being made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but urgently appealed to the international community to work even harder to end stigma, discrimination and complacency.

The officials, in messages to mark the World AIDS Day on Sunday, also called for concerted efforts to stop new HIV infections among children and to ensure access to care and treatment for all those that need it.

In his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "On this World AIDS Day, I am more optimistic than ever. Much of the world is accelerating progress in responding to HIV."

Ban noted that, with major drops in new infections and deaths and progress in realising the target of ensuring 15 million people have access to anti-retroviral treatment by 2015, this is crucial to halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic for good.

However, he said that, as revealed in the UNAIDS 2013 World AIDS Day Report, there are still worrying signals that some regions and countries are falling behind.

"While advances are being made in reaching vulnerable populations through efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination, there is still much to do to end this problem," he said. "We must recommit to breaking the remaining barriers, including punitive laws and social exclusion, so we can reach all people who lack access to HIV treatment and services.

"To create conditions for an AIDS-free generation, we must also step up efforts to stop new HIV infections among children and ensure access to treatment for all mothers living with HIV."

On his part, Mr. Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said that as people around the world gathered today to remember friends and family lost to AIDS, "we can also rejoice in incredible hope for the future."

"For the first time we can see an end to an epidemic that has wrought such staggering devastation around the world. For the first time, we can say that we are beginning to control the epidemic and not that the epidemic is controlling us,” he said.

Mr. Sidibe said progress is clear in the scientific breakthroughs, visionary leadership and precision programming.

"The combination of these powerful factors means that people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives, can now protect their partners from becoming infected with the virus, and
can keep their children free from HIV.

"It is certain that ending the AIDS epidemic will mean so much to so many. It will mean zero new HIV infections, zero people dying of AIDS and all people living with dignity and without fear of
discrimination. Ending AIDS will mean celebrating birthdays instead of attending funerals," UNAIDS chief said.

He said,  however, that stigma, denial and complacency were ''still among us, putting us in danger of failing the next generation. We must join our hearts and our voices together we are stronger".

To commemorate the Day, UNAIDS has added a special section to its website which includes videos, reports and other resource materials, as well as compilation of statements and messages by senior UN officials and Heads of UN agencies.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 1Dec2013

01 december 2013 19:31:39




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