Barcelona conference organisers issue nine-point plan of action on global emergency

HIV/AIDS remains a global emergency with far reaching effects, and immediate action is necessary to prevent further catastrophe. This is according to the organisers of the XIV International AIDS Conference, which will be held in Barcelona, Spain in July this year (7-12 July 2002).

In recognition of this global emergency, the conference has prepared a list of nine key elements for immediate action.

“These nine elements form the guiding principles upon which the conference programme is being developed. They reflect the reason we are holding this conference, as well as the reason why people should attend,” said co-chair, Dr Jordi Casabona.

“This is the world’s largest and most important HIV/AIDS conference, bringing together more than 15,000 leading scientists, community leaders, people living with HIV/AIDS, media representatives and policy experts from around the world. It will help to translate the latest scientific advances into action. It will address all aspects of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, from science to community responses, and human rights to economics. It will present a renewed opportunity for action.”

The conference’s key guiding principles are as follows:

  1. HIV/AIDS is a global emergency with far-reaching effects: There is no country that has been left unscathed by the epidemic. It affects all countries socially, economically and culturally. It threatens development and human security.
  2. Immediate action is necessary to prevent further catastrophe: Violence, poverty, insecurity and war contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS. In today’s uncertain climate, HIV/AIDS demands increased focus, commitment and effort. HIV/AIDS is a worsening crisis, which will increase further in times of war and instability.
  3. Commitments of the United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS) urgently require implementation: In June 2001, world leaders met at UNGASS in New York City. The UNGASS Declaration sets out priorities and targets for fighting the epidemic on a global and a national level.
  4. With political commitment given at UNGASS, there is now renewed opportunity for action: This action must be directed toward the creation of global, regional and national responses to HIV/AIDS that are sustainable and based on sound knowledge.
  5. Knowledge must be used to translate commitment into action: The world has gained a vast amount of knowledge about effective strategies against HIV/AIDS from scientific inquiry and community mobilisation. This knowledge must now be used to increase the scale and effectiveness of our response to this epidemic.
  6. A unified effort is needed: All aspects of HIV/AIDS must be addressed by a unified body of scientists, politicians, people living with HIV/AIDS, community groups, religious leaders, business and the media. All groups have valuable experience and lessons to share, and these can accelerate this shared response.
  7. Decreasing the impact of HIV/AIDS depends on effective prevention: Prevention and care are complementary, not competing priorities. Effective prevention efforts that combine education, information, services and structural change to the social environment are needed on a massive scale around the world.
  8. Access to care and treatment must be available to all people living with HIV/AIDS: Maximising access to comprehensive care and effective treatment requires more support to communities, better health infrastructures, cheaper drugs and more resources. Resources for new Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) need to be increased along with boosts to direct national and private sector spending on AIDS.
  9. Social exclusion is at the root of HIV-vulnerability: Exclusion of people from social support and networks because of their religion, social standing, sexual orientation, HIV status, race or gender contributes to vulnerability to HIV and worsens the impact of HIV. Extending dignity and respect to all people is therefore key to responding to HIV.

The theme of the conference is KNOWLEDGE AND COMMITMENT FOR ACTION. This theme was selected to reinforce the need that all involved sectors at all levels – including scientists, the community, people working in the field, and the public and private sectors – work together to review the knowledge gained through science and experience, and use this knowledge to commit to action. This action must be focused across all aspects of HIV and include all infected and affected groups.

The conference is organised by the International AIDS Society (IAS) and the Fundació Barcelona SIDA 2002. It is co-organized by the Joint United Nations Project for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW), the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+), the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO) and Red 2002 (a Spanish-based network of NGOs).

Source: Media release issued by XIV International AIDS Conference.

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