Latin America and the Caribbean AIDS conference ends in El Salvador
11 November 2005
The III Latin America and the Caribbean Forum on HIV/AIDS/STDs (Foro 2005) and the IV Central American Congress on STD/HIV/AIDS (CONCASIDA) closed on Friday 11 November with a gathering of Presidents and other leaders from the Central America region.
UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot attended the Presidential Summit and addressed the conference closing plenary.
At the summit, Dr Piot met with the President of El Salvador Elías Antonio Saca González, the host of the conference.
"There is momentum on leadership – made manifest in today's gathering of Presidents and other leaders from this region here today," said Dr Piot prior to the President's Summit. "Now is the time to act. So that together we can stop the threat of AIDS in our countries."
The President of Guatamela Oscar José Rafael Berger and the President of Costa Rica Abel Pacheco also attended the gathering, as well as the health ministers from Honduras and Nicaragua.
Dr Piot underlined the significant strides that have been made in the region to increase access to treatment. But, he added, these gains in treatment access need to be sustained and extended to the whole region. With more people living with HIV than ever in some countries, Dr Piot emphasized the urgent need to simultaneously increase HIV prevention programmes that reach all people at risk of infection, particularly those most marginalized such as men who have sex with men and sex workers.
"The region must revitalize its strategies to reach people most at risk – and they must address the deeper-rooted factors that affect vulnerability, such as social exclusion and inequalities of all kinds," he said.
Dr Piot urged leaders in the region to renew and reinvigorate their commitments at the highest political level and to agree to specific measures that will translate into concrete actions to reinforce AIDS responses nationally and regionally.
"The history of AIDS has shown us that when we are united, people win. Success depends on each of us truly being committed to tackling this exceptional crisis," said Dr Piot.
As part of the Presidential Summit, a declaration of enhanced commitment to a coordinated regional AIDS response was signed.
Photos: View photos from CONCASIDA 2005