Dr Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, has expressed concern about the shocking impact HIV and AIDS was making on America?s black communities saying ?Wealth is not enough to end this epidemic?.

He said stigma and discrimination was stealing lives in the US as pertaining in Africa and Asia, putting the stability and security of the States in danger.

Speaking at the official opening of the 19th World AIDS Conference in Washington DC, Dr Sidibe said the moment had come to address the social determinants that put individuals at risk, citing, poverty, gender inequality and violence, homophobia, criminalisation, poor housing and homelessness as examples.

The Conference is on the theme ?Ending the Pandemic: Turning the Tide Together?.

For the first time in 22 years, the United States is hosting the 19th International Conference on AIDS after the Obama administration had lifted the travel ban of HIV persons.

More than 23,000 participants and 2,000 journalists from 200 countries are attending the historic conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre. The biennial conference, which is the largest regular conference on any health or development issue, is from July 22 ? 27. It is convened by the International AIDS Society in partnership with UNAIDS, the Global Network of Persons Living with HIV and other stakeholders.

For more than 25 years, the International AIDS Conference has played a central role in the global response to AIDS, marking the evolution of the epidemic and serving as a forum for the presentation of scientific advances.

The Centre for Disease Control, said statistics showed that more than one million people were living with the HIV as at 2008 representing 7% from the previous estimate of 1% in 2006.

In addition, 48,000 persons are infected with the HIV Virus in 2009.

Dr Sidibe said there was a gap of $7 billion per year for HIV which is killing people and could easily close the gap by using the tools science had provided for treatment and prevention, real hope for a vaccine and a cure as well as the financial transaction tax.

?We know how to get to zero. All that can stop us now is indecision and lack of courage. So when investments on HIV are cut, that is a decision to let HIV and AIDS continue to ruin lives and damage communities?.

President of the World Bank Group, Jim Young Kim said success in the response to AIDS depended on partnerships and the fight had shown the world how to turn the tide of a massive assault on human life and dignity.

?We have a responsibility to ensure that lessons from AIDS inform and improve our efforts to tackle other goals, above all poverty reduction,? he said.

Dr Elly Katabira, President of International AIDS Society, was of the view that the return to US to hold the conference signified that there would be an end to the pandemic.

Dr Daine Havilr, Co-Chair of the AIDS 2012 Conference, said progress made over the past 30 years of the existence of the virus had been impressive but maintaining the status quo was not enough and urged delegates and all allies to sign the official declaration of AIDS 2012.

Source: GNA


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