31 May 2011 An unprecedented number of national leaders and other high-level figures will participate in next week’s United Nations meeting on combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the UN announced today.
At least 32 heads of State, heads of government or vice-presidents have committed to participating in the three-day event beginning on 8 June, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said.
The agency described the number as a positive signal that the international community is committed to meet goals on HIV/AIDS prevention and care at a critical time “as more people than ever before are living with HIV, but international funding for AIDS is seen to be declining.”
“The commitment we are seeing for this meeting from world leaders is an extremely positive signal and is coming at a critical time,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “This meeting will provide a real opportunity for countries to take ownership of the response and produce a strong and visionary declaration to guide global efforts in reaching universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2015.”
“The top-level leaders will join ministers and other UN Member State representatives to commit to new ways forward in responding to AIDS,” according to a press statement issued by UNAIDS. “There will also be strong participation from civil society and other actors from the AIDS movement who will join discussions on how to take the AIDS response to the next level.”
“Significant progress has been made in reducing numbers of new HIV infections, in accessing treatment, in reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths and in addressing stigma and discrimination. However, if efforts in responding to the epidemic are not sustained and scaled-up, the important results which have been accomplished risk being reversed.”
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