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Global AIDS epidemic far from over

The 2008 high-level meeting on AIDS took place recently at the UN headquarters in New York.

The meeting focused on the progress made in the fight against AIDS, and the challenges still to be overcome. In attendance were representatives from national governments, civil society groups and UN agencies. Among them was Breda Gahan, Concern Worldwide’s HIV and AIDS advisor.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented a comprehensive report based on the progress of 147 countries. The report showed that significant progress has been made in almost every region of the world. It also warned, however, that the global AIDS epidemic is far from over. Today there are 33.2 million people worldwide living with HIV; it is clear that a great deal of work still needs to be done. 

The Secretary-General stressed how crucial the fight against AIDS is in relation to the Millennium Development Goals. Not only is halting the spread of AIDS a goal in itself, it is also a prerequisite for reaching many of the other goals. The effectiveness of the AIDS response will, as it says on the UNAIDS site, “impact efforts to reduce poverty, improve nutrition, reduce child mortality and improve maternal health and curb the spread of tuberculosis.”

Attendees at the meeting expressed renewed commitment to work together to reach universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010. In his closing statement, The General Assembly President H.E. Srgjan Kerim warned that “History will judge how effectively we rose to the challenge of AIDS. We must not lose the momentum of our global response." 

• “Can I forgive my husband?”, a radio show about woman in Uganda struggling with HIV, airs tomorrow at 7am on Newstalk. Click here to read more