PRESS CONFERENCE ON CONGRESS FOR AIDS IN ASIA AND PACIFIC
The upcoming Sixth International Congress for AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) would be a free zone for genuine discussion, cooperation, and interchange among elements of society and government, as well as infected and affected communities, Dennis Altman, one of the gathering's co-Chairs, said at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.
Mr. Altman, of the AIDS Society for Asia and the Pacific, said that the juxtaposition of the October Congress, to be held in Melbourne, Australia, and a regional meeting for people living with HIV and AIDS to be held the day before, summarized ICAAP's role as a genuine attempt to build a partnership without which there could be no meaningful response to the epidemic.
He noted that while a great deal of emphasis was understandably on the crisis in Asia, there had been a number of successes, including 100 per cent condom promotion campaigns in Thailand; the early development of a comprehensive national AIDS programme in the Philippines; and the willingness of Government leaders in Papua New Guinea to take seriously the threat of the epidemic.
Another panellist, Werasit Sittitrai of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said ICAAP was about breaking barriers, especially in the area of political leadership at the highest level. Government leadership had contributed to successes in prevention campaigns in such countries as Bangladesh, Thailand, and Cambodia. Community and religious leadership also played a prominent role, he added.
He said that ICAAP and a special session of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) towards the end of the year were among the ingredients that would help mobilize the region's political leadership and resources for the struggle against AIDS.
Susan Chong of the Asia Pacific Council of AIDS Services Organizations said that for the ICAAP in Melbourne, the Council would bring together for the second time seven regional networks to create a platform of issues in which they were all involved.
She said participants would include frontline community workers, people living with HIV/AIDS and non-governmental organization workers. In addition to that forum, the Council would hold satellite sessions and panel discussions on such issues as funding and advocacy for regional collaboration on mobile populations.
ICAAP co-chair Robin Gorna of the Australian Federation of AIDS Associations coordinated the press conference, which was sponsored by UNAIDS.
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