E.U., Neighboring Countries Issue Joint Declaration To Fight HIV/AIDS Pandemic
Officials from 27 European Union nations and neighboring countries on Tuesday at the close of an HIV/AIDS conference in Bremen, Germany, issued a joint declaration to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Xinhuanet reports. According to officials, the declaration primarily focuses on universal access to HIV prevention services, particularly in the context of mother-to-child transmission and sex education for young people. Officials also said that they will make efforts to improve cooperation to ensure access to affordable drugs and that discrimination against HIV-positive people and vulnerable groups will be "legally prohibited, if necessary" (Xinhuanet, 3/13). German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday at the conference called on the international community to take more effective measures to combat the spread of HIV worldwide, Deutsche Welle reports. "The struggle against the disease is a task for all of mankind and should not be treated as a problem for individual nations," Merkel said. She added that Germany -- which this year holds the presidency of the European Union and the Group of Eight industrialized nations -- will put the HIV/AIDS pandemic on the E.U. and G8 summit agendas in June (Deutsche Welle, 3/13). Merkel also has said that Africa will be among the focus points of Germany's G8 presidency (Reuters India, 3/11). While opening the two-day conference, German Health Minister Ulla Schmidt called on the European Union to do more to control the spread of HIV. European countries should aim to implement more effective preventive measures and affordable treatment across the continent, Schmidt said. HIV "doesn't stop at borders," she said, adding, "High rates of infection in one country have a knock-on effect in neighboring states." Access to prevention measures and affordable treatment should be ensured throughout Europe, and all people living with the disease should be able to live their lives without stigma or discrimination, Schmidt said. She added that increased efforts to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine are needed and that she is in talks with pharmaceutical companies over the price of some HIV/AIDS drugs. Schmidt and German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul also called for increased cooperation among aid groups working to fight the disease. UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, as well as health experts and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, took part in the conference (Deutsche Welle, 3/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.