We must not remove our foot from the accelerator when responding to HIV, says UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov
Vienna/Geneva, 1 July 2014 - UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said in Geneva today that the international community had a historic opportunity "to lay the foundation for ending the AIDS epidemic, but this is no time for self-congratulations, and we should not remove our foot from the accelerator".
Mr. Fedotov was delivering a report during the 34th meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board in Geneva that noted the decline in new HIV infections of 33 per cent in the last decade, and that 10 million people in low-and-middle income had access to life saving treatment in 2012. For these reasons, he said, "I believe we have arrived at a truly transformational moment in our global efforts."
But, Mr. Fedotov said, challenges remained. He highlighted new infections, which were unchanged or were increasing in some countries, as well as the insufficiency of prevention efforts among groups such as prisoners and people who use drugs. He said that, across the globe, only a small proportion of people were receiving lifesaving anti-retroviral treatment, and that discrimination, criminalization and punitive approaches were continuing to limit effective responses to HIV.
Mr. Fedotov also spoke about UNODC's key mandate in the area of drug use and HIV. After noting that HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs was at least 22 times higher than among the general population, Mr. Fedotov said: "If we fail to confront these issues, and unsafe injecting practices continue, HIV and hepatitis C will spread among people who inject drugs and ultimately to their partners and society in general."
He called on every country to respond to the problem of unsafe injecting drug use by introducing national drug control systems founded on evidence-based HIV prevention, treatment and care in full compliance with human rights standards.
Mr. Fedotov finished by stating that the Cosponsoring organizations "… each have a unique mandate in the field of HIV, and we are all committed to ending the AIDS epidemic. He said that the Joint [UNAIDS] Programme's success "is that it continues to leverage this critical leadership to build on the gains already achieved, and in doing so, address the many challenges ahead".
Mr. Fedotov was speaking as the current Chair of the UNAIDS Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations, comprising 11 UN cosponsor agencies and the UNAIDS Secretariat. The committee meets twice a year at the principal level to review the policies and strategies related to the UN's joint response to HIV/AIDS.
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