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I. Introduction

February 16, 2001

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has become a major development crisis. It kills millions of adults in their prime. It fractures and impoverishes families, weakens workforces, turns millions of children into orphans, and threatens the social and economic fabric of communities and the political stability of nations. The negative impact of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS on development, particularly in southern Africa but increasingly in such areas as the Caribbean, South and South-East Asia, cuts across development sectors and across society. AIDS spreads rapidly, undermining labor forces, business productivity, exports, investments and ultimately national economies. If the epidemic continues at its present rate, the hardest-hit nations stand to lose up to 25 per cent of their projected economic growth over the next 20 years.

In September 2000, the General Assembly adopted the Millennium Declaration (resolution 55/2), in which it called for concrete action on HIV/AIDS. Specifically, the Millennium Declaration commits the world's leaders to halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by the year 2015; providing special assistance to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS; and helping Africa to build up its capacity to tackle the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other infectious diseases. The Declaration came after a series of follow-up events to global conferences, including the World Summit for Social Development, the Fourth World Conference on Women and the International Conference on Population and Development, which all identified priorities on HIV/AIDS (see Annex I). The year 2000 opened with a debate in the Security Council that recognized AIDS as an issue of human security and acknowledged its growing impact on increased regional instability and issues of national security.

In recognition of the severity of the epidemic, the United Nations decided to convene, as a matter of urgency, a special session to review and address the problem of HIV/AIDS. The special session will aim to secure a global commitment for enhanced coordination and intensified national, regional and international efforts to combat the epidemic. The present report provides a brief global overview of the epidemic and examines its critical aspects. The report also analyses lessons learned in the fight against AIDS to date, and highlights areas that will require urgent attention in the years to come.





  
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This article was provided by UNAIDS. It is a part of the publication Review of the Problem of HIV in All Its Aspects. Visit UNAIDS' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 

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