Statements and Webcast
H.E. Dr. Henrique Barros, National AIDS Coordination
9 June 2011
- Statement: English (Check against delivery)
HENRIQUE BARROS, National AIDS Coordination of Portugal, said that while his country had been one of the most affected nations in the Western hemisphere, over the past three decades, it had been able to significantly decrease the number of AIDS-related cases and deaths; virtually eliminate mother-to-child-transmission; and dramatically decrease transmission among intravenous drug users. Portugal had also registered great advances in the promotion of voluntary and free HIV-testing, directed at the general population and the most affected communities. It also now guaranteed universal access to treatment.
“Knowing one’s epidemic is the major catalyst to success in fighting HIV,” he said, adding that, in Portugal, the epidemic had mainly been driven by unsafe drug injections, but all the major vulnerable groups had been affected. Prevalence rates were still high among prison inmates, sex workers, migrants from highly endemic countries, and among men who had sex with men — the one community facing a recent up-tick of new diagnoses. While Portugal had maintained a human rights approach that integrated evidence-based approaches, and included the active engagement of affected communities, the Government’s main objective was to reduce the number of overall infections and get more people the treatment and support they needed. Portugal was currently the coordinator of the AIDS Programmes of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, which was a crucial opportunity to promote cooperation, mutual learning and better understanding of solutions.