Feature story

AIDS focus at ASEAN Summit

01 October 2007

Asia has the second largest number of people living with HIV in the world and its share of the global epidemic is increasing. Faced with such challenges, countries across the region are stepping up commitment to fight AIDS and putting AIDS and its effects at the centre of many political and socio-economic discussions.

At the 12 th Summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), that is meeting in Cebu, Philippines from 10-15 January, the issue of AIDS will be high on the agenda as the ten participating Heads of State consider AIDS at an extraordinary session to be held on Saturday 13 th January.

According to latest estimates, the ASEAN region – which includes Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam -shows the most severe epidemics within Asia. At their 7 th Summit held in Brunei Darussalam in November 2001, the ASEAN Heads of State and Government passed a resolution to convene the “Special Session on HIV and AIDS” in conjunction with the 12th ASEAN Summit in 2007, to signal ASEAN’s commitment in combating AIDS and to give impetus to regional responses in taking urgent action.

At the Session, the ASEAN Heads of State will discuss AIDS, its effects and the regions response, and will consider a special report on the epidemic from the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The report is intended to brief the leaders on AIDS epidemics globally and in the region, and the challenges AIDS presents. This is the first time an external body has been invited to report to the Heads of State Summit on AIDS.

Following the Special Session, the ASEAN Heads of State are expected to adopt a Declaration on AIDS, affirming their commitment to prioritize, lead and strengthen national AIDS responses. “[This Declaration] will form part of the permanent history and lexicon of ASEAN,” said ASEAN Spokesperson, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Victoriano Lecaros.

Representing UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Deborah Landey will attend the ASEAN Summit.

Related feature stories