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UNICEF plays an active role at the upcoming International AIDS Society conference in Washington DC


© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-0726/Asselin

A health worker prescribes a bottle of antiretroviral medicine at a hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The medicine is being dispensed to an HIV-positive 15-year-old girl for her 7-day-old baby, part of efforts to prevent transmission of the disease.

20 July 2012 – As experts gather in Washington, DC on 22 July for a major international conference on rolling back the HIV and AIDS epidemic, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake will host a leadership forum stressing the need for innovation in eliminating new HIV infections in children.

Mr Lake's forum comes at the start of the International AIDS Society's biennial conference, which runs through 27 July. That event is expected to bring together more than 20,000 delegates from around the world including technical experts, civil society, youth and people from key populations. They will meet to exchange information on rolling back the global epidemic and discuss next steps. The theme of this year's conference is "Turning the Tide Together."

It comes as time for achieving international commitments on reversing the epidemic is running short. The world community has agreed to accomplish the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, including Goals 4, 5 and 6, which relate directly to HIV and AIDS. And countries have also committed to eliminating new HIV infections among children – and halving new adolescent infections – by the same date, under the UNAIDS Global Plan for eliminating new infections among children and keeping their mothers alive.

HIV and AIDS Section Chief Craig McClure, who formerly served as Executive Director of the International AIDS Society, is leading the UNICEF delegation to the IAS conference. Staff will make presentations, participate in workshops with other experts and lend a hand at an information booth showcasing the organization's research and advocacy work.

UNICEF staff will present plenaries stressing the importance of including children in the HIV response and emphasising the need for coordinated global action to reverse the epidemic.

On Wednesday, 25 July, Senior HIV and AIDS Advisor Chewe Luo delivers a plenary entitled, "Turning the Tide on HIV/AIDS in Children and Youth." She will provide an overview of steps needed to "turn the tide": eliminating new HIV infections in children, early HIV diagnosis and treatment, care for adolescents and vulnerable children, and sustaining political commitment.

Later that day, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta speaks on addressing the needs of adolescents, particularly girls – an area of special personal interest for the DED.

And on 26 July, Craig Mcclure delivers his plenary, "The Tide Cannot be Turned Without Us," calling for increased commitment to ending the global epidemic for good.

Regional and HQ staff will also make oral abstract presentations and offer symposia on their areas of expertise and regional issues.

Mr Lake's Leadership Forum will take place at Washington's Council on Strategic and International Studies as the conference gets underway. It is part of his Leadership Agenda on the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (EMTCT), and focuses on the need for innovation to achieve EMTCT targets in 22 priority countries, most in sub-Saharan Africa.



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