|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General Highlights Areas for Action in Message to International
Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific
(Delayed in transmission.)
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, delivered by Nafis Sadik, Special Envoy for HIV/AID in Asia and in the Pacific, at the opening ceremony of the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, in Busan, Republic of Korea, on 26 August:
Let me begin by thanking the Republic of Korea for hosting the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific. The Republic of Korea, with its low HIV prevalence, could have comfortably stayed on the sidelines of the demanding response to AIDS. Instead, it chose to move front and centre. This sends a compelling message — the responsibility for ending AIDS must be shared by all.
I also want to thank all of you — Governments, civil society, affected communities, United Nations organizations and other stakeholders — for coming together to help meet the challenge. You are following through on the overriding message of the recent High-Level Meeting on AIDS: Together, we can end AIDS.
Indeed, scientific advances continue to reduce the rates of new HIV infections. More people are getting access to treatment. Political will is growing. I urge you to build on this global momentum to overcome critical challenges in Asia and the Pacific.
As we all know, the region is still reeling from ongoing global economic uncertainty, and struggling to address other pressing concerns such as security, natural disasters and climate change. But we know what is required of us. The Political Declaration adopted during the High-Level Meeting on AIDS clearly spelled out goals and targets for which we are responsible — and accountable.
Among other things, the Declaration expressed concern that many national HIV prevention strategies have an insufficient focus on populations at higher risk — specifically men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers. The region has also been reinforcing this message. The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific passed a resolution in support of increased access to prevention and treatment services for populations at higher risk, including transgender populations, as well as internal and international migrants.
As we look ahead, let me highlight three areas for action: first, the region has produced clear evidence that initiatives for people at higher risk are extremely effective. We should scale up this success. AIDS programmes in the region should have more focus and reach out to communities that are most affected. We must also meaningfully engage people living with HIV.
Second, the number of people who received life-saving antiretroviral drugs in the region has increased three-fold in a period of just three years. Yet the majority of the people who need treatment still do not receive it. I am particularly concerned that antiretroviral therapy for children lags behind global averages. We must expand access to antiretroviral treatment and build on well-known successful efforts in the region.
Third, we have seen courageous attempts by some countries in the region to undertake legal and policy reforms to fight stigma and discrimination. Yet we know that in far too many cases, institutional prejudices hinder AIDS programmes. Let us work to bring an end to laws, policies and practices that hamper the AIDS response.
With your engagement and leadership, Asia and the Pacific can fully meet HIV goals and targets for 2015. Motivated by our vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths, let us join forces to deliver on the commitments in the 2011 Political Declaration on AIDS. And let us back our resolve with resources. Tangible results will require more regional and domestic investments in the AIDS response.
Now is the time to step up. I count on your commitment. Together, we can end AIDS.
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