UN Chief Calls for End of AIDS Epidemic Within 10 Years

Posted June 8th, 2011 at 12:35 pm (UTC-5)
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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the international community to take bold action to end the AIDS epidemic within 10 years.

Mr. Ban spoke Wednesday at the start of a high-level U.N. conference on the global AIDS response.

He called for world partners to come together to provide universal access to the prevention, treatment and care of HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – by 2015. He said the international community also needs to lower costs and deliver better programs, commit to accountability, promote the rights of women and use the power of youth and new communications technology to trigger a prevention revolution.

Mr. Ban said if the international community takes these steps, it can achieve a world free of the disease.

The executive director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, told the heads of state and other leaders gathered for the three-day conference that the goal is zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

Overall, Sidibé said there are 56 countries — 36 of them in Africa — that have stabilized the AIDS epidemic and significantly reduced the number of new infections.

But he said that while there are 6.6 million people receiving treatment in low- and middle-income countries, another nine million are still waiting for treatment.

The majority of the 34 million people living with AIDS are in Africa. The disease has killed nearly 30 million people worldwide since it was first reported three decades ago.

Sidibé said this is a defining moment. He said it is time to agree on a transformational agenda to end this epidemic.

On Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution underlining the need for continued international action to halt the impact of HIV and AIDS in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Tuesday's discussion focused on how U.N. peacekeeping missions can be important players in an integrated response to combat and prevent the spread of HIV.

The 15-member Security Council took up the AIDS issue only once before, in 2000, when it adopted a resolution that recognized the potential of the epidemic to pose a risk to stability and security if left unchecked.