Statements and Webcast
(on behalf of the Union of South American Nations)
H.E. Dr. Edgar Gimenez, Vice-Minister of Public Health
8 June 2011
EDGAR GIMENEZ, Vice Minister of Public Health of Paraguay, speaking on behalf of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), said that the very groups that were stigmatized with regards to HIV/AIDS had a key role to play in stemming the tides of the epidemic. Those groups included men who had sex with men, male and female prostitutes, and drug users who used needles, among others. The right to health was a human right, and promoting access was a firm commitment of the UNASUR governments. He reconfirmed its commitments to eliminating barriers to treatment.
Another key issue in the battle against the AIDS pandemic was the cost of drugs. While UNASUR members were considered medium- and high-income countries, those classifications did not take into account persisting inequalities. That made it difficult to negotiate fair prices for drugs, specifically antiretroviral treatments. In response, UNASUR should make full use of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or “TRIPS agreement”, and other strategies to gain access. That would make it possible for the countries to fulfil their commitments and tackle the epidemic from a perspective that guaranteed human rights. He called for greater support from the agencies of the United Nations system, and stressed that access must be provided to all those living with HIV/AIDS, without discrimination.