Commemorating World AIDS Day

 

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To commemorate World AIDS Day, various NGOs discussed the significance of civil society’s role in responding to gloabl HIV/ AIDS. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) cannot be eradicated without vaccines, and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) develops in some people after exposure to HIV. People living with HIV can avoid developing AIDS if they are tested and receive treatment early. Dr. Padmini Murthy, global health director/ professor at New York Medical College, considered AIDS as an issue of gender equality. Women are more prone to AIDS due to biological makeup. Getting tested is a high-priority following unprotected sex, or in cases of sexual assault. According to Dr. Murthy, women are less likely to be proactive in obtaining and initiating condom use during intercourse due to societal gender roles in heterosexual encounters. She sighted education and empowerment as key factors in discontinuing this pattern. Simon Bland, director of the UN AIDS office of New York, tested the audience’s knowledge on statistics surrounding HIV/AIDS. Currently, 37 million people live globally with AIDS. The majority of new HIV infections are in young women having heterosexual sex. Only 60% of individuals living with HIV are aware of their positive status.

Eric Sawyer, co- founder of ACT UP and the Housing Works and Health Gap organization, discussed initial responses to AIDS in 1981. There were extreme stigmas. Fear and neglect of diagnosed individuals made living with HIV/AIDS that much more frightening and isolating. Many who tested positive were fired, evicted, and shunned. Only two funeral homes in New York City were willing to embalm HIV positive bodies. However, 35 years later, Deborah Levine, executive director of Love Heals, happily announced that last year no child was born HIV positive in NYC. Molly McHugh, Communications Director of Grassroots Soccer (GRS), stated that GRS offers support to HIV positive youth by referring them to treatment and providing them with safe and supportive spaces.

Meeting: Briefing on “HIV and AIDS: How can civil society revitalize the response?” (on the occasion of the World AIDS Day) (organized by the NGO Relations, NGO Relations and Advocacy, and Special Events Section, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information (DPI))

Date/ Time/Location: Thursday, 1 December 2016; 13:15 to 14:30; United Nations Headquarters, Trusteeship Council Chamber

Speakers: Dr. Padmini Murthy, Global Health Director/Professor at New York Medical College and NGO representative; Simon Bland, Director of UN AIDS office of NY; Eric Sawyer, Co- Founder of ACT UP and Housing Works and Health Gap; Deborah Levine, Executive Director of Love Heals; Molly McHugh, Communications Director of Grassroots Soccer

Written By: Donna Sunny, WIT Representative

Lessons from AIDS to emerging epidemic held by the UNAIDS

The meeting began by the moderator’s opening remark on questioning the current HIV progress, a great success or a failure. Dr. Ren Minghui replied by acknowledging the advanced treatment facilities and policy framework gave rise to the elimination of maternal AIDS transmission in 4 countries. He was deliberately optimistic about the up-to-now achievements, yet perseverance work in ending AIDS was essential. Apart from that, Prof. Marie added with recognizing both of the contextual and biological vulnerability that accounted the stagnant progress in HIV incidence, among key groups, had limited access to package intervention.

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Side-event: Addressing global health emergencies: lessons from AIDS to Ebola, Zika & other emerging epidemics; held at UNHQ, New York, on June 9, 2016.

Regarding the need of vaccine on every epidemic situation, Dr. Berkley admitted the existing intellectual challenge was an inadequate monetary incentive for the massive vaccine manufacture. He stated there were effective vaccine trials available for various epidemic disease, but its application depended on the severity, urgency, and affordability of the affected region. In addition, Mr. Cone also underscored the limited access to clinics lowered one’s incentive on having diagnosis, receiving treatment, where the causes could be mandatory destroy on health-care facilities or geographically unreachable. The two emphasized the use of vaccine required the right priorities with good approaches.

On the other hand, Msgr. Vitillo addressed the role of church in combating epidemics, where churches could function as good as clinics. He reasserted the significance of education on changing one’s cultural attitude along with understanding and respect to culture, in order to wipe out the stigma and discrimination. Besides, Mr. Conteh expressed his concern that message delivery and community engagement were useful to stop epidemics. He ended by sharing the lesson from Ebola outbreak that the strategy of decentralization, where he believed, was valuable and should be applied during the epidemics.

Meeting: Side event on Addressing global health emergencies: Lessons from AIDS to emerging epidemic held by the UNAIDS

Date/Time/Location: Thursday, June 08, 2016; 18:30-20:30; Conference Room 3

Speakers: Mr. Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS; Ms. Laurie Garrett, the Moderator Council on Foreign Relations (USA); Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI; Mr. Jason Cone, Executive Director for Doctors Without Borders; Prof. Marie Laga, Institute of Tropical Medicine; Mr. Alfred Palo Conteh, Minister of Internal Affairs (Sierra Leone); Dr. Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Disease; Ms.Alessandra Nilo, Executive Director for Gestos (Brazil); Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis Special Advisor on Health and HIV

Written By: WIT Representative, Kelvin HO

Edited By: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

100th plenary meeting on Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment and the political declarations on HIV/AIDS held by the General Assembly

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The meeting was operated for countries to declare their commitment against AIDS as well as implement political declarations. The President began with the opening remarks on addressing the above importance. Soon after, Mr. Sey revealed the key to preventing AIDS was to monitor the HIV transmission together with maintaining economic growth, where prosperity could alleviate poverty, with fewer women getting HIV. In addition, Prof. Randrianarimanana stated AIDS could be eradicated by focusing on high impact intervention, effective decentralization, and strengthening the health-care system. He admitted the epidemic was still existed, even if the current prevalence was low.

On the other hand, Dr. Numbi recalled the dedication on the previous declaration cheered the international commitment, technical and financial partners with a multisector approach to combat AIDS. Meanwhile, Dr. Al-Jasser added with a compliment on the comprehensive national program, safeguarding the access on treatment, had enhanced the community responsibility, cooperation and civil societies’ engagement. Moreover, Mr. Hamach reminded the stigma and discrimination would implicitly harm the Universal Health Coverage program where social restructuring was demanding. He ended his speech by reiterating political leadership and devotion to international community were vital to the Fast-Track to ending AIDS. Then, Ms. Skogen appealed to all members, to provide funding to high-burden and developing countries on quality education, sexual education, reproductive services along with well-trained health-care workers.

Last but not least, the above speakers declared their unceasing allegiance to combating AIDS financially or putting efforts on regulation compliance, demanding stronger prevention of AIDS.

Meeting: 100th plenary meeting on Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment and the political declarations on HIV/AIDS held by the General Assembly

Date/Time/Location: Thursday, June 08, 2016; 15:00-18:00; General Assembly Hall

Speakers: His Excellency, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the General Assembly; His Excellency, Mr. Omar Sey, the Minister of Health & Social Welfare of Gambia; His Excellency, Prof. Dieudonné Randrianarimanana, the Minister of Health, Family Planning and Social Protection of Madagascar; His Excellency, Dr. Félix Kabange Numbi, The DRC Minister of Public Health; His Excellency, Dr. Sulaiman bin Mohammed Al-Jasser, the Minister of Economy and Planning of Saudi Arabia; His Excellency, Mr. Masakazu Hamach, the Parliamentary Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Japan; Her Excellency, Ms. Tone Skogen, the State Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway

Written By: WIT Representative, Kelvin HO

Edited By: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

Photo: https://twitter.com/unaids

Secretary General of the United Nations discusses Human Rights and Rule of Law

UN SECRETARY GENERAL MEETS WITH SPANISH PRESIDENTThe Human Rights and the Rule of Law meeting spoke on ways to support the integration of these objectives into the post-2015 agenda. Human rights fall into categories that either can enhance development or harm development. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the UN, spoke of promoting freedom of opinion and well-functioning institutions, along with better strategies and results. More than 1 billion people remain extremely poor, despite efforts to eliminate poverty. A key element in the ongoing agenda is to secure land for agricultural production.  The Rule of Law will prevent corruption and organised international crime, which H.E. Ki-Moon explained is require to balance the needs of people, while exterminating poverty. The agenda needs to close social and economic gaps.

The UN AIDS Goodwill Ambassador shared that despite decreasing incidence, AIDS continues to be the 2nd largest contributor to adolescent death. More than 40% of people with AIDS are 14 and younger. The Ambassador reported that in 9 of the world’s highest AIDS-prevalent countries, less than 9% of boys and girls have been tested. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, spoke of the success from programs that have been established in damaged areas. Mr Lake elaborated on more governments-based programs to keep children educated, vaccinated and sheltered. In a video message from Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented four suggestions for the new agenda; that the agenda must address both “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear”, the framework must include the principles of human rights and equality, must contain a strong global partnership and must be based on a strong accountability.

Meeting Title: Contributions of Human Rights and the Rule of Law
Speakers: Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General; Anthony Lake, Executive Director UNICEF; Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; President on Human Rights; Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
Location: United Nations HQ, Trusteeship Council, New York
Date: 9 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Leslie Anokye
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark