New York, US (PANA) - Top UN officials have stressed the need to expand services and scale up resources to stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The officials said despite the tremendous progress that has been achieved in the response to HIV/AIDS, it is urgent that efforts be redoubled to end this global epidemic.
Speaking on the issue Monday night, at a high-level session in New York to review progress on
last year's meeting on HIV/AIDS, UN General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said: ''Together we must act strategically and effectively to achieve the vision of a world with zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.''
Al-Nasser said the world is riding a wave of renewed hope and accelerating progress against HIV.
''There have been dramatic reductions in new infections in the hardest-hit countries, and among young people worldwide, as well as a scaling up of treatments in low- and middle-income countries in the past decade.
''Yet, critical challenges remain,” he said, adding: ''HIV still disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, and funding is in decline, threatening the ability of the world community to sustain necessary progress.''
On his part, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in his first report on the issues arising from that session and issued in April this year, that many challenges remains.
''Today the international community has cause for hope and optimism in the response. Substantial access gaps persist for key services, with especially difficult obstacles experienced by populations at higher risk. Punitive laws, gender inequality, violence against women and other human rights violations continue to undermine national responses.
''Of special concern is the first-ever decline in HIV funding in 2010, potentially jeopardizing the capacity of the international community to close access gaps and sustain progress in the coming years,'' the UN chief said.
At last year’s high-level meeting, UN Member States adopted a political declaration committing themselves to ambitious new targets to combat HIV/AIDS, with the aim of ridding the world of a disease that has claimed more than 30 million lives since the virus was first identified three decades ago.
The member states also pledged to deliver antiretroviral therapy to 15 million people living with HIV, work towards eliminating new infections in children and substantially reducing maternal AIDS-related deaths and reduce by 50 per cent new infections from sexual transmission and among people who inject drugs.
Others are to substantially increase HIV funding, with the goal of mobilizing US$22 billion
to US$24 billion annually, meet the needs of women and girls and eliminate stigma and discrimination.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 12June2012