Ban Calls For Global Unity To End AIDS By 2020 At U.N. Meeting Opening

In his opening address at the U.N. High Level Meeting on AIDS on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “told presidents, ministers and diplomats from across the globe that if all partners involved in the fight unite ‘as never before,'” the goal of “zero new infections, zero stigma and zero AIDS-related deaths” can be achieved, the Associated Press/Kansas City Star reports (Lederer, 6/8). “Ban proposed a five-step programme, consisting of universal access to health care, low-price drugs, accountability, preventive measures and respect for the dignity and human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS,” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C (6/8).

“However, President Joseph Deiss of the General Assembly said 10 million people still have no access to treatment and far too many people were still being infected, adding it was necessary to continue complementary and closely-linked prevention, treatment, care and support measures,” Xinhua reports. Deiss said, “We have reached a critical moment in time. We must take a holistic approach and integrate the response to AIDS into broader development programs” (Reilly, 6/8).

Eliminating HIV/AIDS will become reality, “said [UNAIDS Executive Director Michel] Sidibe, if the world can revolutionize HIV prevention and mobilize young people as agents of change; scale up universal access to treatment and services; break the trajectory of treatment costs; promote innovation, technology transfer and country ownership; stop violence against women and girls; and open a frank discussion about intergenerational sex and concurrent partnership,” the U.N. News Centre writes (6/8).

In a statement, President Barack Obama said, “This week’s meeting at the United Nations is an opportunity for all of us to do better. … No nation can do this alone.  Together, we can resolve to meet our shared responsibilities.  Together, we can come closer to our vision of a world without HIV/AIDS” (6/8). Speaking at the meeting, Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, said an “abiding commitment” from the U.S. allows it to provide “about 58 percent of all donor government resources to respond to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic,” but she called on affected and donor countries to provide more resources to fight the disease, according to a transcript of her remarks (6/8).

At a sideline event, 30 first ladies came together and “agreed to advocate for comprehensive access to maternal and child health services and to advance 10 action steps on return to their respective countries to ensure that children are born free from HIV and to promote life-saving HIV services for women and children,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The 10 action steps include “supporting efforts to increase the number of centres providing free maternal, newborn and child health services, including treatment to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to children” (6/8).

At another sideline event on Tuesday, prior to the meeting’s start, Sidibe joined President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, international artist and Global Ambassador of Keep a Child Alive Alicia Keys, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador Annie Lennox, and Frika Chiya, a young woman living with HIV, for a panel discussion on women and girls and HIV/AIDS moderated by journalist and author Stephanie Nolen, according to a UNAIDS feature story. At the event, UNAIDS, the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS, ATHENA, and U.N. Women launched a report (.pdf) that “summarizes the key messages and findings from a global virtual consultation which engaged with nearly 800 women from over 95 countries and in nine languages” (6/7).

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