News / Health

    World Community Pledges to Eradicate AIDS

    The international community has agreed to a political declaration with ambitious targets intended to end AIDS-related deaths within ten years. The commitments were made at a high-level United Nations meeting charting the global AIDS response for the next decade. But some AIDS activists say the document does not go far enough.

    The three-day conference brought together 3,000 people -- heads of state and government, other high-level political leaders, activists and members of civil society.

    Their goal: to achieve “triple zero” within ten years. That is zero new infections of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; reducing to zero the stigma and discrimination associated with the illness; and zero AIDS-related deaths.

    Since it was discovered 30 years ago, AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide. Today some 34 million people are living with the virus and 7,000 new infections occur each day.

    UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Paul De Lay detailed some of the targets in the declaration, which include more than doubling the number of people currently receiving antiretroviral treatment in low- and middle-income countries within the next four years.

    “To halve sexual transmission of HIV by 2015; to reduce transmission of HIV among people who inject drugs by 50 percent by 2015; to ensure that by 2015 no children will be born with HIV; to increase universal access to antiretroviral therapy to get 15 million people onto life-saving treatment by 2015; and to reduce TB [tuberculosis] deaths in people living with HIV by 50 percent by 2015,” De Lay said.

    Reaching these goals will cost money, and De Lay told reporters that U.N. member states have pledged to close the financial gap and work toward increasing AIDS funding to between $22 and $24 billion a year by 2015.

    But Sharonann Lynch of Doctors without Borders notes that no country made a specific financial commitment this week.

    “Governments agreed to scale up treatment to 15 million by 2015. They also agreed to pay for it, but no one brought their checkbooks. What we need to see in November at the G20 summit is exactly that. The next thing, the next signature we want to see is on a check to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria or to national HIV treatment programs, so that we can actually scale-up and meet this promise,” Lynch said.

    Work negotiating the 16-page declaration began a year ago, with diplomats from Botswana and Australia acting as the facilitators.

    But critics say it does not go far enough in addressing issues and groups critical to a comprehensive AIDS response. Aditi Sharma of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition worries that despite all the talk at the conference about empowering women and girls, the final declaration has let them down.

    “Despite where we are at this epidemic and knowing all that we know, and with women accounting for half the people affected by HIV/AIDS, we have had a struggle to push through a single paragraph on women that recognizes their sexual and reproductive rights, and the paragraph that we’ve got is the same one we had in 2006. Where are the concrete measures, targets, specific funding to move forward the agenda on how HIV programs will not just have specific interventions for women and girls, but also tackle some of the issues that fuel the epidemic like gender inequality and violence against women?,”  Sharma said.

    Diarmaid McDonald of the British-based coalition Stop AIDS Campaign said his coalition would have liked to see language about access to affordable antiretroviral drugs needed to treat and prevent HIV and AIDS.

    “Unfortunately, the current intellectual property regime makes it incredibly difficult for countries to get access to affordable generic versions of their drugs. And we hope that world leaders will support countries’ ability to override the rules which stop them from producing generic drugs so they can get the drugs that their people need,” McDonald said.

    Other activists say the negotiation process was difficult because of conservative governments including Egypt, some African countries and even the Vatican, who worked to keep language out about sex education for youth, and references to risk groups such as men who have sex with men and transgender persons. In the final declaration the men made it in, but the transgendered did not.

    But overall, UNAIDS’ Paul De Lay says he is pleased with the final declaration, which was adopted by acclamation in the U.N. General Assembly. He said it is not possible to have everything that they would have liked to see in it, but it is an “excellent document” that UNAIDS feels is strong and comprehensive enough to move the AIDS battle forward for the next decade.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora