Statements and Webcast
H.E. Mr. Thomas Mayr-Harting, Permanent Representative
10 June 2011
- Statement: English (Check against delivery)
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) said his Government had passed legislation establishing stringent safety standards to prevent nosocomial infections, guaranteeing blood and product safety, and providing free access to HIV/AIDS testing and medical treatment. Those legislative measures were accompanied by comprehensive informational campaigns targeting both the general public and specific vulnerable groups, disseminating information about transmission and prevention, while addressing gender-specific and discrimination issues. Those measures were supported by an additional package of harm reduction programmes for people at risk, including programmes for the provision of clean needles and syringes, as well as drug-substitution programmes. Especially effective had been measures in the field of vertical transmission and reproductive health, which had nearly eliminated mother-to-child transmission in Austria. Since 1997, Austria had instituted advanced procedures to provide access to treatment and care for all, which had dramatically decreased the numbers of both new infections and AIDS-related deaths.
He said his country was convinced that prevention and access to affordable medication were essential to reach the goal of zero new HIV infections. He stressed the importance of a comprehensive approach, including biomedical treatments, behavioural change, and structural interventions to modify harmful gender norms, as well as access to comprehensive sexuality education and prevention options, particularly for young people. It was important to pay special attention to the prevention needs of key populations at higher risk, including men who had sex with men, and intravenous drug users and sex workers, providing them with non-judgmental, non-coercive services. It would not be possible to achieve the goal of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths without a social and legal environment that promoted the rights of women and girls. Austria was especially worried by the increasing feminization of HIV/AIDS and, to reverse that trend, efforts should be stepped up to guarantee access of women and girls to sexual and reproductive health information and services.