UN Wants to End AIDS Deaths by 2021

Posted June 10th, 2011 at 7:10 pm (UTC-5)
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A United Nations summit on the global AIDS response has ended with participants setting ambitious targets intended to end AIDS-related deaths within 10 years.

In a declaration Friday, the United Nations General Assembly also set a goal in the next decade of ending new HIV infections, and of eliminating the stigma and discrimination associated with the illness.

To reach the new goals, the group set several shorter-term targets, including getting 15 million HIV-positive people onto anti-retroviral drugs by 2015. That would more than double the number of people currently receiving life-saving treatment.

UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Paul De Lay said the declaration was an “excellent document.”

But some AIDS activists say it lacks specific funding commitments from member states to pay for these far-reaching targets. Critics also say the document does not address some larger issues, like gender inequality, that fuel the epidemic.

An estimated 3,000 people, among them heads of state and government, other high-level political leaders, activists and civil society members, met for three days in New York.

On Thursday, world leaders at the conference launched a new initiative to significantly reduce the number of children born with HIV by 2015.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said developed nations have successfully eliminated mother-to-child HIV transmissions by treating women while they are pregnant. He said this proves mother-to-child transmissions can be stopped in the developing world as well.

In 2009, some 370,000 babies were born with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Nearly all of them were born in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.N. wants to reduce that number by 90 percent in the next four years.

The plan calls for increasing access to anti-retroviral drugs and other prevention services for mothers and children, integrating health care services for women and empowering women to take charge of their health and that of their children.

The United States pledged $75 million for the new initiative.