U.N. High Level Meeting on AIDS To Review Progress in Fighting Disease
World leaders are expected to review progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS worldwide during the United Nations 2008 High Level Meeting on AIDS, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in New York, the Washington Post reports (Lynch, Washington Post, 6/10).
Delegates at the meeting are expected to review progress in implementing the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS (Xinhuanet, 6/9). In addition, delegates will discuss ways to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, care and support services by 2010, Kyodo News reports (Kyodo News, 6/9).
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ahead of the meeting on Monday released a report and said that efforts to fight the disease are beginning to show progress. Ban noted the report found decreases in new HIV cases and deaths from AIDS-related causes in the past 10 years but said the gap between funding and need is hindering efforts to achieve universal access to antiretroviral drugs (Xinhuanet, 6/9). "Since 2006, progress in response to HIV is evident in many regions," the report said, adding, "However, progress is uneven, and the expansion of the epidemic itself is often outstripping the pace at which services are being brought to scale." Despite the overall decrease in the number of new HIV cases worldwide from 3.2 million in 1998 to 2.5 million in 2007, the number of cases is increasing in some countries -- such as China, Russia, Indonesia and Ukraine -- according to the report. It also found that access to HIV/AIDS treatment is uneven. In addition, some of the most-affected countries in Africa have seen little improvement in the number of new cases, the report said (Washington Post, 6/10). "The most recent data include some encouraging news, although the breadth and severity of the [HIV] epidemic remains unmatched in modern times by any other infectious disease," Ban said (Kyodo News, 6/9).
Ban added that the world "will fall short of achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in the absence of a significant increase in the level of resources available for HIV programs in low- and middle-income countries" (Xinhuanet, 6/9). Ban also said, "Unless greater and swifter advances are made in reaching those who need essential services, the epidemic's burden on households, communities and societies will continue to mount" (Heilprin, AP/Google.com, 6/9). "Serious challenges remain" to fighting HIV/AIDS worldwide, Ban said, adding that HIV prevalence is increasing among youth, women and girls in several countries and that five million people in Africa are in need of treatment (Washington Post, 6/10).
U.N. General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim, who will preside over the meeting, said the global health community "cannot separate the fight against HIV/AIDS and the fight against" tuberculosis. In addition, former President Clinton noted that rising oil prices worldwide are hampering efforts to fight HIV in developing countries (AP/Google.com, 6/9).
According to the Post, more than 90 prime ministers, foreign and health ministers, as well as eight presidents, are expected to attend the meeting (Washington Post, 6/10).
Global Fund Needs $7B to $8B To Meet Funding Goals, Executive Director Kazatchkine Says
In related news, the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria requires an additional $7 billion to $8 billion to meet 2008 funding goals, Global Fund Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine said on Monday ahead of the U.N. meeting, Reuters reports. Kazatchkine added that the funding gap likely will increase to between $10 billion and $12 billion "in the next two to three years."
The Global Fund is "hopeful" that the funding gap is "narrowing" but still must be "very careful," Kazatchkine said. Many people have said that global efforts to fight HIV/AIDS are "doing alright" and that the global health community should "focus on something else," Kazatchkine said, adding that the Global Fund needs a "very sustained effort" and "increased resources" to achieve universal access to HIV treatment. According to Kazatchkine, the Global Fund is helping to provide 1.75 million people with antiretroviral access in low- and middle-income countries (Bases, Reuters, 6/9).
Archived webcasts of the sessions will be available after 5 p.m. ET on June 18 at kaisernetwork.org.