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HIV/AIDS: Moving slowly towards an HIV-free generation

NAIROBI, 4 April 2011 (IRIN) - Progress towards an HIV-free generation has been slow, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, as he released a report on achievements in combating HIV and AIDS in the past three decades.

"It is time to take a hard look at where we stand today, but looking from where we have come from 30 years ago in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the world has made tremendous progress", he said.

"We are moving towards an HIV-free generation, albeit slowly, but to realize this, a lot more - like increased investment in the fight against HIV, and doing away with prohibitive laws that impede the fight against the disease - needs to be done," he said.

The report - Uniting for Universal Access: towards zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths - noted that the global rate of new HIV infections was declining, access to HIV treatment had increased, and there had been significant progress in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

By the end of 2010, six million people in low- and middle-income countries were on treatment (up from 5.2 million in 2009), prevention of mother-to-child transmission services reached 50 percent coverage worldwide, and 33 countries - 22 in sub-Saharan Africa - recorded a 25 percent decline in new HIV infections.

"Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) presents the best opportunity for the world to realize an HIV-free generation, and more efforts must be put towards realizing this [goal],” said Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

Rebecca Auma, a Kenyan HIV-positive mother who gave birth to HIV-free triplets three years ago, said there was lack of such services, especially in rural areas.

"While I am here today to tell my story of giving birth to HIV free triplets… many mothers… have no access to the services I got. I was lucky, and world leaders must keep their pledges to provide funding for critical services such as PMTCT," Auma said.

Recommendations included revitalizing the push towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care, making HIV programmes cost-effective, efficient and sustainable, promoting the health, dignity and rights of women and girls, and ensuring accountability.

The report cited weak national infrastructures, shortfalls in funding, and discrimination against vulnerable groups as major challenges.

"We will not meet our targets unless these bottlenecks are dealt with… We must increase funding to HIV programmes, and continue to fight discrimination against certain groups such as commercial sex workers," the Secretary-General noted.

The report, which will be discussed at the UN High Level Meeting in New York in June, was based on data submitted by 182 countries.

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Theme (s): Care/Treatment - PlusNews, Health & Nutrition,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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