UN General Assembly to hold special session on HIV and AIDS

This year’s United Nations General Assembly will have a special session to review progress on HIV and AIDS made by humanity after three decades into the epidemic and chart a future course for global response to the fight.

The high level meeting, which will be held from June 8-10 in New York, will bring together Heads of State, stakeholders and non State actors will among other discuss how young people will lead in the prevention revolution and their transformative ideas on shaping the future of HIV and AIDS response.

They will also integrate the response into broader health development agendas, HIV sexual and reproductive health response and ensure that women living with HIV were healthy through pregnancy, delivery and breast feeding.

Ghana’s delegation to be led by the Vice President John Dramani Mahama and representatives of all key national stakeholders.

Briefing the media in Accra on Friday, Mr Chris Kpodo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration on Ghana’s efforts over the years in fighting the epidemic, said global efforts had scaled down the rate of new infections with about 33 countries recording more than 25 per cent reduction in the past 10 years as they scale up services to prevent mother to child transmission.

He noted that despite all the efforts, there was still the need for more concerted efforts to reduce prevalence.

The press briefing centred on Ghana’s progress made on HIV prevention, access to treatment, care and support.

Mr Kpodo explained that Ghana was still facing daunting challenges such as inefficient health systems, stigmatisation and discrimination.

He said although the prevalence had dropped from 1.9 per cent in 2009 to 1.5 per cent in 2010, there was the challenge of meeting political commitments of halting and reversing the spread of the epidemic.

“The fight against this deadly epidemic needs to be intensified by eliminating the stigma and discrimination associated with it while making the efforts to overcome barriers to prevention for populations with a greater risk of HIV infection.

The meeting will outdoor a new report titled: “AIDS at 30: Nations at Crossroads”, which will outline the progress countries have made in achieving universal access HIV prevention, treatment care and support.

Dr Loepold Zekeng, UNAIDS Country coordinator, said the 2011 High Level meeting on AIDS had come at a pivotal moment in the history of the epidemic and called for zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

He said Member States would adopt a new declaration that would reaffirm current commitments and commit to actions to guide and sustain the global AIDS response.

Dr Nii Akwei Addo, Programme Manger for the National AIDS Control Programme, who represented the Health Minister, reiterated the need to ensure that Ghana recorded zero infection rates and zero rates for the prevention of mother to child transmission.

He called for the establishment of two local antiretroviral manufacturing plantations in West Africa and South Africa to enhance access to essential drug for the prevention of mother to child transmission and called for the increment in government’s budget for the response.

Ms Charity Owusu-Danso, who represented Persons Living with HIV(PLWH), called on government to waive the GH¢5 on the cost of antiretroviral drugs and urged all not to stigmatise and discriminate against persons living with HIV since such acts undermines their human rights.

Source: GNA

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