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Global crisis – global action: an international effort to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS

Alarmed by the accelerating epidemic and its global impact, the United Nations General Assembly convened a special session on HIV/AIDS at the highest political level (UNGASS). Held between the 25th to 27th June 2001 in New York the overall aim of the special session was to intensify international action to fight the epidemic and to mobilise the resources needed. Acknowledging that the response has so far been a fraction of what is needed , Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) stated that "the real task now, is to increase, massively, the political will, resources, systems and social commitment needed to turn the tide of the epidemic."

Delegates from over 180 countries included representatives from the UN, Heads of State, government ministries, the World Bank, International NGOs, academic institutions, AIDS activists, leading experts and the private sector came together and through interactive Round Table groups tackled the following issues : i) Prevention and care, ii) HIV/AIDS and human rights, iii) Socio-economic impact of the epidemic and the strengthening of national capacities to combat HIV/AIDS and iv) International funding and cooperation.

The outcome

The meeting ended with member states adopting the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS "Global Crisis - Global Action". This document examines strategies and issues including; leadership, prevention, HIV/AIDS and human rights, reducing vulnerability, and HIV/AIDS in conflict and disaster affected regions.

It was acknowledged that prevention of HIV infection must be the mainstay of the national, regional and international response to the epidemic; but that prevention, care, support and treatment for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS are mutually reinforcing elements of an effective response and must be integrated in a comprehensive approach to combat the epidemic.

Update

17 July 2001 - The UNAIDS Secretariat and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have concluded a Memorandum of Understanding for a cooperation agreement. The MOU will provide a clear framework for the complementary roles which can be played by IFAD and UNAIDS. By combining their efforts, both parties aim to alleviate the impact of HIV and AIDS on rural poverty and insecure livelihoods, and to reduce vulnerability to AIDS through sustainable rural development."

22 July 2001 - The "Group of Eight" summit ended in Genoa, Italy, with world leaders committing US$1.3 billion to the global AIDS and health fund. Calling HIV/AIDS "a common enemy that knows no frontiers and threatens all people".

Note: All information, statements and documents relating to the UN General Assembly Special Session can be found at website www.un.org/ga/aids.

 

The facts

More than 21 million people have died of AIDS since the1980s, over 75% of them in sub- Saharan Africa.

Some 36million people are currently infected with the HIV virus- over 25 million of them in Africa -and most of them do not know it.

In 16 countries, more than 10% of adults, aged 15-49, are infected with the HIV virus.

In 7 countries, all in southern Africa, at least one adult in five is living with HIV.

In the most affected countries, half of all 15- year-olds alive today will eventually die of the disease, even if infection rates drop in the next few years.

If infection rates remain high, more than twothirds of these young people will die of AIDS.

More than 13 million children have been orphaned by AIDS, and that figure may reach 30 million before the end of the decade.

AIDS is having a serious impact on many societies and economies, destroying the hard won development gains that have been made in recent years.

Countries like Brazil, Thailand and Uganda have shown that strong national plans, social openness and community participation can indeed reverse spiralling infection rates.

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Reference this page

Global crisis – global action: an international effort to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. Field Exchange 13, August 2001. p11. www.ennonline.net/fex/13/global