Press release

Timely commitment from top leadership at AIDS meeting

Unprecedented numbers Heads of State and Government and Vice Presidents to attend UN meeting on AIDS in New York

New York/Geneva, 31 May 2011—As the AIDS response reaches a critical turning point, world leaders are showing renewed commitment to AIDS as more than 30 Heads of State and Government and Vice Presidents are expected to convene at next week’s UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS. The top level support is coming at a decisive moment in the AIDS response as more people than ever before are living with HIV but international funding for AIDS is seen to be declining.

The top level leaders will join ministers and other UN Member State representatives to commit to new ways forward in responding to AIDS. There will also be strong participation from civil society and other actors from the AIDS movement who will join discussions on how to take the AIDS response to the next level.

“The commitment we are seeing for this meeting from world leaders is an extremely positive signal and is coming at a critical time,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “This meeting will provide a real opportunity for countries to take ownership of the response and produce a strong and visionary declaration to guide global efforts in reaching universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2015.”

Negotiations have already begun around the text for the final declaration which is expected to be adopted on the last day of the meeting.

Since the first Special Session on AIDS was held at the United Nations in 2001 significant progress has been made in reducing numbers of new HIV infections, in accessing treatment, in reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths and in addressing stigma and discrimination. However, if efforts in responding to the epidemic are not sustained and scaled-up, the important results which have been accomplished risk being reversed.

“The AIDS response is a shared responsibility,” said Mr Sidibé. “There are more people in need than resources available. To address this need, both donor and low- and middle- income countries need to contribute their fair share.”

The meeting is being held at the United Nations in New York from 8-10 June. For more information including the official programme and details of media accreditation, see the following link:

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Sophie Barton-Knott
tel. +41 79 514 6894