Feature story

Towards universal access: meeting the challenge in Latin America

25 January 2006

(Brasilia, 12-14 January 2006)

Lowering the prices of AIDS medicines and other essential commodities, securing additional donor support, increasing international awareness of the epidemic in the region, and reducing homophobia and gender discrimination were among the priority actions identified at the Latin America regional consultation on scaling up towards universal access.

In nearly all the Latin American countries, the highest levels of HIV infection are found among men who have sex with men.

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Pedro Chequer, Coordinator Brazilian National STD/AIDS programme chairing a session of the The 1st regional consultation on Universal Access

The 1st regional consultation on Universal Access

The Latin American Regional Consultation on universal access, hosted by the Brazilian government, was organized by the Horizontal Technical Cooperation Group (HTCG) with seven civil society networks in Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

It brought together representatives of networks of people living with HIV, sex workers, men who have sex with men and other groups at high risk of exposure to HIV and also representatives of national AIDS authorities, the Assistant US Global AIDS Coordinator, representatives of the Catholic Church and UNAIDS Cosponsors.

Finding practical solutions at the local level

From the very first day, participants were urged to focus on solutions. “We have had a lot of plans,” said Michel Sidibe, Director of Country and Regional Support at UNAIDS. “We need more implementation,” he added.

The specificity of this international process is not only the focus on solutions but also countries’ ownership.

This means that there will be no globally set targets and that the countries, based on thorough assessment of their situation, will themselves determine what are their specific obstacles and what are the appropriate solutions to ensure that all women, men and children have access to the AIDS services that they need.

The United Nations General Assembly resolution adopted on 23 December 2005 calls for an inclusive country-driven process involving the relevant stakeholders from non governmental organizations, civil society and the private sector.

UNAIDS is actively assisting countries in facilitating this inclusive process aiming at coming as close as possible to the goal of universal access to treatment by 2010 for all those who need it.

Many national consultations are already scheduled to take place before the end of March 2006. The next regional consultation on Universal Access will take place in Tunis, Tunisia from 6 to 8 February 2006.

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