|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE on hiv/aids declaration
The political draft declaration on HIV/AIDS presented Friday to the General Assembly for adoption was a substantial, forward-looking statement that would give new muscle to the global fight against the killer epidemic, United Nations and global health leaders said this afternoon during a Headquarters news conference.
“I really believe that this is a strong declaration which will move the response to AIDS forward”, said Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Everybody will find something missing in it. But a number of tough issues that have never appeared in any internationally negotiated text are now there.”
United Nations General Assembly President Jan Eliasson agreed, saying that the Declaration had been well received by most of the more than 140 Heads of State, Heads of Governments, Ministers of Health, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and other senior Government officials attending the three-day General Assembly High-level Meeting on AIDS this week. He expressed confidence that the draft would be adopted.
While acknowledging that many commitments set five years ago to end the global AIDS pandemic had not been met, the draft declaration reaffirmed the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the need to ensure that everything in it was achieved, Mr. Eliasson said. Representatives of more than 800 non-governmental organizations participated in the General Assembly negotiations and were instrumental in expanding the text to include ambitious national targets, human rights protections and gender equity with the goal of achieving universal access to treatment, care and support.
The eight-page document would commit signatories to recognize the need, as determined by UNAIDS, for an estimated $20 billion to $23 billion annually by 2010 to rapidly scale up AIDS responses in low- and middle-income countries; to set interim targets for 2008 and national targets for 2010 for universal access to comprehensive prevention, treatment, care and support; and to ensure that sustainable, credible national HIV/AIDS plans were funded and implemented transparently and effectively, Mr. Eliasson said.
The text also called for the development of improved drugs, diagnostics and prevention technologies, including vaccines and microbicides. It reaffirmed that the World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement should not prevent countries from protecting public health through the production of generic antiretroviral drugs and other essential medicines to treat AIDS and related infections.
Mr. Piot said the text stressed the need to empower women and girls through improved access to sexual and reproductive health care services and better legal protections against discrimination and sexual violence. That language would prove useful in holding the global community accountable for implementing gender equality.
Responding to a reporter’s question on Member States’ financial responsibility in the fight against AIDS, Christopher Hackett, the Permanent Representative of Barbados to the United Nations and one of the Co-Chairs of the General Assembly negotiations, said the Declaration provided an important framework for monitoring funding commitments, including the many pledges made by Member States during the meeting.
Khunying Laxanachantorn Laohaphan, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations, who also co-chaired the Assembly’s negotiations, responded to another journalist’s question about the lack of access to generic antiretroviral drugs and other life-saving medicines in developing countries that did not produce them. She noted that Thailand manufactured inexpensive generic drugs and was offering to sell them at low cost to neighbouring South East Asian countries.
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