Principal actors in the AIDS movement join world leaders at critical crossroads
NEW YORK, 7 June 2011—More than 3000 people will come together at the United Nations in New York tomorrow for the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS. The meeting, which runs from 8-10 June, will provide an opportunity to take stock of the progress and challenges of the last 30 years and to shape the shape the future AIDS response.
The High Level Meeting is taking place 10 years after the historic 2001 United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS, and the 2006 signing of the Political Declaration where UN Member States committed to moving towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. More than 30 Heads of State, Government and Vice Presidents are expected to attend the meeting which will include official plenary and five panel sessions along with 40 individual side events. On the final day of the High Level Meeting, UN Member States are expected to adopt a Declaration which will guide countries over the next five years.
The opening and closing plenary sessions will be presided over by Joseph Deiss, President of the UN General Assembly. He said, “The momentum around this meeting is unprecedented and promises to make this an historic event. We are looking to the UN Member States to make bold commitments to help us reach our shared goal of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.”
Although some countries are still struggling to reach their universal access targets, many have made significant strides in responding to their epidemics. Twenty-two countries have achieved universal access to services which prevent mother- to-child transmission of HIV.
As well as country-led successes, considerable progress has been made in the global response to HIV since the 2001 UN Special Session. The rate of new HIV infections has decreased by 25% in the last 10 years, deaths have reduced by 20% in the last 5 years and 6.6 million people are now accessing antiretroviral therapy, compared to just a few thousand in 2001. Progress has also been made in breaking down barriers to stigma and discrimination and in removing punitive laws such as travel restrictions for people living with HIV.
“Inequity, discrimination and laws against people living with or at risk of HIV continue to block access to HIV services for people most in need,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). “We need a response to HIV that is grounded in human rights and one which promotes equality and equity. Achieving this will open the way to a world free from HIV.”
UNAIDS recently reported that despite successes in HIV prevention and treatment, more people than ever before were living with the virus, 34 million according to latest estimates. They also reported that international funding for AIDS had declined.
“If resources go down—people most in need will suffer,” said Tetyana Afanasiadi, Human Rights activist. “34 million people need support and access to HIV services today and millions more need to be educated about HIV and how to prevent transmission. Fewer resources for AIDS could undo the positive results that have been achieved over the past 30 years—which would be a huge setback.”
The High Level Meeting on AIDS is taking place from the 8-10 June at the United Nations in New York. It will bring together UN Member States, International Organisations, Civil Society, people living with HIV and public and private sector partners.
For more information and to see the full program and access feature stories, webcasts, videos, media information and related documents please visit the official website at: http://www.un.org/en/ga/aidsmeeting2011/