FORO 2007 opens in Buenos Aires
18 April 2007
Some 4,000 people are attending the IV Latin American and Caribbean Forum on HIV/AIDS and STD’s which opened in Buenos Aires on 17 April. Participants include people living with HIV, civil society groups, non-governmental and governmental institutions, academia, the media, UN agency representatives and the private sector.
Prior to the official opening ceremony UNAIDS held a satellite on universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support where sessions included a review of progress in the region, challenges and ways forward in planning and costing, and sustainable financing for scaling up universal access.
Speaking from the conference, Luiz Loures, from UNAIDS Secretariat said, “Great work is being done in the region on scaling up towards universal access and we are seeing a real increase in commitment from leaders in all sectors of the AIDS response. But we urgently need to continue building on this action. The forum is giving us a platform to share ideas and put together new strategies to really move the AIDS response forward in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Conference organisers outlined the main focus of the forum as being to:
- Contribute to and increase public awareness on the impact of the AIDS epidemic in the Latin American and Caribbean regions.
- Highlight recent successes, as well as outlining the challenges faced in the region and ways to overcome them.
- Contribute to increasing political commitment and accountability based on experience acquired in the region.
- Contribute to the reduction of AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.
- Strengthen capacity of those working in the field of AIDS.
- Promote the greater participation of all the social actors in response to the epidemic.
Nearly 2 million people are living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean where HIV transmission is occurring in the context of factors common to most of the region; widespread poverty and migration, insufficient information about epidemic trends outside major urban areas and rampant homophobia. Cesar Nunez, UNAIDS’ Regional Director for Latin America said, “One of the main aims of this conference is to discuss ways of reducing stigma and discrimination surrounding people living with HIV which is unfortunately still a major problem in the region.”
Expanding on the theme ‘Latin America and the Caribbean: United in diversity towards universal access’ , Andrés Leibovich, president of the organizing committee of Foro 2007 said, “The respect of diversity is the foundation of all democratic life. It is for that reason that in Latin America and the Caribbean we want to join together and build a society where inclusion and justice are real. This is why we are calling for universal access to education to help prevent new HIV infections, and for people living with HIV to be able to exercise their rights to access antiretroviral treatment and live with dignity.”