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Press Release

UNAIDS Executive Director Addresses Security Council, Commends Draft Resolution on HIV/AIDS

July 17, 2000

New York -- Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), has briefed the UN Security Council on progress made since he first addressed that body in January this year, and congratulated the Council for preparing a draft Resolution on HIV/AIDS, set to be adopted shortly.

"Remarkably, AIDS is at the centre of this Council's deliberations for the second time this year. We applaud your foresight," he told the Council, thanking members for their commitment to fighting AIDS.

The Resolution aims to intensify the fight against AIDS and calls on countries to design and implement long-term strategies to roll back the epidemic. It also targets armed forces and peacekeepers for education, training and prevention efforts, and urges voluntary and confidential HIV/AIDS counselling and testing for all national uniformed forces, especially troops deployed internationally.

"We agree that voluntary HIV testing, accompanied by counselling, has a vital role to play in HIV prevention," Dr Piot told the Security Council, but added that it must be combined with other HIV prevention and support services, and handled with care. "Above all, HIV testing without informed consent and confidentiality should be avoided. Such practices often drive the epidemic underground and complicate other prevention measures."

In his 10 January address, Dr Piot outlined the links between AIDS and war, and the special vulnerability of communities ravaged by conflict. He also said that humanitarian aid workers, military, and police forces properly trained in HIV prevention and behavior change could be a tremendous force for prevention. This morning, Dr Piot summarized progress made since then and highlighted the following:

  • Efforts to disseminate HIV/AIDS information on Africa within the United Nations have been intensified: a key example is the Country Response Monitoring Project, to be launched this month, which will enable easy access to the latest information on the epidemic in certain countries through the World Wide Web;

  • the International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa* has made significant progress: a common Framework for Action has been elaborated, and a number of country-level initiatives have moved collaborative action forward;

  • the Inter-agency Standing Committee (IASC) has endorsed a comprehensive action plan which fully integrates HIV/AIDS into humanitarian action;

  • intensified discussions are now underway with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations on responsible behavior and protection of peacekeeping troops and humanitarian staff, including training before and during deployment, and the development of a UN medical policy on HIV/AIDS for peacekeeping mission staff.

Dr Piot's address comes at a time when the AIDS epidemic continues to spread. To date, 18.8 million people worldwide have died of AIDS, 3.8 million of them children. Nearly twice that many, 34.3 million, are now living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The most recent estimates show that in 1999 alone, 5.4 million people were newly infected with HIV, and 4 million of them were in sub-Saharan Africa.

*Note to editors: The International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa is a coalition that brings together, under the leadership of African governments, the United Nations system, donor governments, the private and community sectors.

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This article was provided by UNAIDS. Visit UNAIDS' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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