Mr Palm's address on the World Aids Day on 1 December 2010
World Aids Day 1 December 2010
The world is living with HIV/AIDS for almost 30 years. AIDS has caused untold suffering and death. But another story has unfolded through the years, one of people around the world uniting with passion to take action. These efforts are making a real difference.
The latest report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) shows that the AIDS epidemic is beginning to change course. Globally, fewer people are becoming infected with HIV. Millions of people have gained access to HIV treatment. More women are now able to prevent their babies from becoming infected with HIV. Travel restrictions for people living with HIV are being lifted by many countries, as stigma slowly gives way to compassion and recognition of human rights.
The UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic shows that an estimated 2.6 million people became newly infected with HIV last year, nearly 20% fewer than in 1999. The report gives new evidence that prevention is working. But it is not over yet. There are still countries, including in Eastern Europe, where infection is increasing. More than 1,000 babies are born with HIV every day, according to the latest estimates, and half of them will die before their second birthday if they are not diagnosed and treated.
As for Albania, I wish to congratulate government on its commitment to fight HIV/AIDS and the important step undertaken so far. Government is covering treatment for all AIDS patients, including 21 children. Coordination has improved among institutions, and also the Ministry of Education is very active. Albania is still a low prevalence country; the epidemic concentrates on high-risk groups. Congratulation also to the Institute for Public Health, which undertakes the research and makes data available to better understand what needs to be done.
In Albania, it is now increasingly recognized that we also need to focus on groups who are most at risk of contracting the disease. These are injecting drug users, men having sex with men, and groups within the Roma community.
Especially, as Albania hasn't crossed the peak of the epidemic yet, a lot still needs to be done. In many countries that successfully pushed back the HIV/AIDS epidemic, young people led campaigns to adopt safer sexual practices. The best way to protect our future generations is by talking to them about the risk.
Costs of services need to be more accurately forecasted and budgeted for. More analysis is required to fine-tune secondary legislation.
UN agencies in Albania support the government and partners in implementing the national plans. We help to focus research and resources on the most vulnerable and most at risk. The overall goal of all UN member states is clear: universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. We want to help that the response to HIV embraces health, dignity, security and solidarity; and not stigma, discrimination and punishment. The work is not done until we have zero infections, zero AIDS deaths, and zero discrimination. Zero discrimination in the community, in the clinic, in the courtroom, in schools, in parliament.
HIV does not discriminate; the world must not discriminate in its response to those who have AIDS.