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AIDS at 30 - Perspectives on AIDS from leaders around the world

From 8-10 June 2011, world leaders will convene in New York City at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS. The gathering of Heads of State and other leaders from government, the scientific community, civil society and the private sector offers a unique opportunity to review progress, share lessons learned and chart the future course of the global AIDS response.

The meeting comes at a pivotal moment in the history of the epidemic: Thirty years ago, in June 1981, scientists in the United States identified the first case of an immune system failure that would later be defined as AIDS. Ten years ago, at a landmark UN General Assembly Special Session on AIDS, world leaders declared that AIDS was a “global emergency” and called for an “urgent, coordinated and sustained response” to the epidemic.

Now, three decades into the epidemic, what is the global scorecard for the AIDS response? According to a recent report of the UN Secretary-General, more than six million people were accessing lifesaving antiretroviral treatment in low- and middle-income countries at the end of 2010—up from just 400 000 in 2003. Over the past decade, the number of people newly infected with HIV declined by nearly 20%. And, for the first time in 2009, more than 50% of HIV-positive women were able to ensure that their babies were born HIV free.

Up to now, Romania has been managing the epidemic quite successfully. Despite the fact that Romania has a significant number of people affected by HIV/AIDS - over 16 000 recorded cases the situation is stable in terms of new incidence since 2004.

Due to the early beginning of AIDS-prevention programmes targeting vulnerable groups and led by civil society organizations, the HIV rate among injecting drug users remains at 1%.

Romania, which faced a dramatic epidemic of HIV infection among children in 1989, has shown how governments, drug companies and international agencies can bring AIDS under control by ensuring that the necessary anti-retroviral treatment is made available. Romania was the first country in Eastern Europe and one of the few in the world, able to provide treatment to all HIV-positive persons in need.

However, the gains are fragile in Romania as well as elesewhere in the world. Significant efforts are required to take HIV and AIDS out of isolation. There is still work to do in order to make progress on larger health and development goals through the integration of HIV services with wider health services including treatment of tuberculosis, as well as sexual and reproductive health.

Global AIDS resources have flat-lined, and Romania is not eligible for international grants anymore.
The country has  to do everything possible to sustain successes and prevent people form being infected with HIV; to keep those who live with HIV from dying and to keep  babies from getting the infection from their mothers.
This is the commitment for our future – a future with zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related death.    




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