IAS calls for action instead of rhetoric at UN meeting on AIDS
The International AIDS Society (IAS) yesterday urged government and fellow civil society leaders attending the upcoming UN High Level Meeting on AIDS to address the gap between commitments and results on universal access to HIV prevention, care and treatment interventions.
IAS President Dr Pedro Cahn noted that the upcoming UN High Level Meeting, to be held 10 - 11 June in New York, was the last opportunity for the international community to review progress in meeting commitments made in the 2001 Declaration of Commitment and 2006 Political Declaration.
A June 2nd report, released by WHO, UNAIDS and UNICEF, revealed that, although progress is improving in areas such as access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and care and treatment services for women and children, most countries are far off target to reach universal access by 2010, and most people living with HIV remain unaware that they are infected.
ART coverage remains unacceptably low at roughly 31% of people in need of treatment, and many countries are still not engaging populations most vulnerable to HIV, such as sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM) and injecting drug users (IDUs) in their national HIV plans. Women and girls bear the brunt of the epidemic, due to their biological and social vulnerability to HIV infection.
And while services to prevent mother to child transmission have increased, they continue to remain woefully inadequate. And for every two people who start antiretroviral therapy five become newly infected.
"This meeting is an opportunity for countries to be accountable for the commitments they have made, to place evidence over ideology and action over political expediency", said Dr Cahn. "The Secretary General himself has indicated progress to date is insufficient to meet universal access targets, and that legal barriers are impeding progress to reaching vulnerable populations. This is the last opportunity for governments to remove those barriers and for the international community to come together on a global health crisis that has already claimed over 25 million lives".
The UN High Level Meeting is the second and final scheduled review of progress on meeting commitments made by the international community at the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS) in 2001.
The IAS is the world's leading independent association of HIV professionals, with more than 10,000 members from 180 countries. The IAS is a non-profit organisation founded in 1988, and acts as an independent voice in the global response to AIDS on behalf of its members. The Society is the custodian of the International AIDS Conferences, the paramount gathering of all disciplines in HIV/AIDS, held every two years, and organizes the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention.