Wednesday, 12 August 2009

ICAAP9: Call for stronger commitment to universal access

By Syed Akbar
Bali, Aug 9: The 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) opened Sunday with calls for a strengthened commitment to achieving Universal Access and providing prevention, care, support and treatment for those who need it most.

Indonesian First Lady and AIDS Ambassador, Her Excellency Hj. Ani Bambang Yudhoyono, and other AIDS Ambassadors also urged nations to work towards implementing the Declaration of Commitment adopted at the UN General Assembly Special Session on AIDS in 2001 and the Political Declaration of 2006, despite the pressures of the global economic crisis.

More than 3,000 delegates are taking part in ICAAP at the Bali Convention Centre in Indonesia. This year's theme is "Empowering People, Strengthening Networks."

In a message to the Congress, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said some countries in the Asia Pacific were beginning to see success in their efforts to reverse the spread of HIV, but not enough to break the trajectory of the epidemic.

“We must transform the AIDS response in Asia so that it works for people — especially for people who have been marginalized and without a voice," he said.

"This means protecting sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender, injecting drug users and their intimate partners.”

A meeting of AIDS Ambassadors discussed ways of mobilizing greater action and putting in place stronger accountability measures in responses to the continuing epidemic.

ICAAP is a biennial gathering for the release and discussion of scientific, programmatic and policy developments in the global response to HIV/AIDS and is convened by AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific (ASAP).

Local Organizing Committee Chair Prof. Dr. Zubairi Djoerban said,
“The 9th ICAAP takes place when this region, like much of the world, is challenged by stability threats and of a new variant of influenza which have claimed lives while leaving many others severely ill the world over.

“For this very reason, let me express my gratitude to all of you who have unaffectedly shown your greatest courage to be here and enhance our commitment to reverse the course of the AIDS epidemic in the region,”

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