In a big reminder to countries like India, that risks losing ground in fight against HIV due to funding crisis, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday cautioned of an immediate and
In a big reminder to countries like India, that risks losing ground in fight against HIV due to funding crisis, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday cautioned of an immediate and urgent need for action in fight against HIV/AIDS.
Terming the health picture as “worrying”, the Secretary-General called for global 2016 to mark a commitment to a new era.
“I call for an era when we finish what we started. To end this epidemic we must close the gaps that kill people from accessing services and living with dignity. We have to expand resources, science and services. We have to protect and promote the right of people living with HIV, gay men, men who have sex with other men, transgender people, sex workers people who inject drugs and prisoners When we do this we can end stigma and discrimination prevent the spread of HIV and save lives,” he stated while kickstarting the 21st International AIDS conference at Durban.
The United Nations has set a target of ending the AIDS pandemic by 2030. Significantly, there are some 36.7 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Of which, only 17 million are receiving treatment.
Michael Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS said that if the progress continues at the same pace, the ambitious target to eliminate the virus looks bleak. “We are losing our investments. I am scared that we are back again. We have 1.9 million new infections and they are not going down. We need to call donors. If we stop the progress, we will definitely regret and that’s not we want.”
Calling the gains made in fight against the deadly virus “inadequate”, the Secretary-General urged countries to come together. He said threats like antimicrobial resistance are to be watched out for as it could kill as many as 10 million people by 2015, if we fail to act.
“We have proven that when we come together we can transform. Many people cannot afford the new generation of treatment for AIDS, Hepatitis C and other NCDs like cancer. There is a not enough research and development on neglected and rare diseases. TB is the leading cause of deaths for people living with HIV, but there have been no almost new medicines to treat it in years The bigger health picture is worrying we are progressing to threats like Ebola and Zika, antimicrobial resistance is a major threat that could kill as many as 10 million people by year 2015”.
“This conference comes at another crucial time in the HIV epidemic,” said Chris Beyrer, president of the International AIDS Society.
“If we don’t make the right strategic choices, we risk reversing hard-won gains. Delay is tantamount to defeat.”
The UN Secretary-General said that he was hopeful of the high level panel working on new recommendations and policies. “I am confident that the 16 member panel will bring the best energy and expertise to this conference. I look forward to these recommendations that can affect millions of people”.
Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron who was also present on the introductory session, said investing in youth was important. “It’s important to get the adolescents effectively engaged, otherwise nothing is going to change in the fight against this epidemic. There needs to be more conversation and not just sustaining or maintaining it”.