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At opening of XVIII International AIDS Conference, scientific, community and political leaders applaud recent progress toward universal access and urge continued momentum to 'finish what we've started'
Date:7/19/2010

men, sex workers and youth.

Today's Opening Session included three presentations on the state of the epidemic:

HIV Epidemiology Progress, Challenges and Human Rights Implications

Examining the existing knowledge on the course of the epidemic as it links to human rights concerns, Dr. Yves Souteyrand (France) of the World Health Organization stated that addressing human rights violations among vulnerable populations is essential for the future success of the global response. The HIV epidemic has stabilized globally, with annual numbers of deaths declining from 2.2 million in 2004 to 2 million in 2008, mostly due to impressive scale up of HIV treatment. However, HIV is still not under control, leading to around 2.7 million new infections each year.

New infections are particularly high in some key populations all over the world, such as migrants, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs. Social marginalization, discrimination and even criminalization suffered by these groups have prevented production of robust epidemiological knowledge. Often, even when the knowledge exists, decision-makers continually fail to act.

Human Rights and the Response

In her presentation on the state of human rights in the epidemic, Paula Akugizibwe (South Africa) of AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa noted that the greatest barriers to achieving universal access are social, economic and political challenges. In order to accelerate progress and achieve sustained success, there is an urgent need for the HIV response to be based on concrete human rights principles. Key steps include ending laws that criminalize HIV transmission and marginalize people living with HIV, sexual minorities and sex workers. Such laws entrench stigma and preclude access to much-needed HIV interventions.

Current funding threats, which are beginning to have a destructive impact on health systems in low-income countries, have
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Contact: Regina Aragon
Regina.Aragon@gmail.com
43-699-172-85713
International AIDS Society
Source:Eurekalert

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