Press Release

07 June 2006

Prevention Must Be Mainstay of Responses to HIV, World Leaders Reaffirm

We Must Overcome Barriers to AIDS Prevention, Commit Funds, Empower Women to Reverse Pandemic, Ensure HIV-free Future Generation, World Leaders Declare

UNITED NATIONS, New York — Twenty-five years into the AIDS pandemic, leaders of the world united here on Friday and adopted a political declaration that commits them to pursuing all necessary efforts to scale up national responses to achieve universal access to comprehensive prevention programmes, treatment, care and support in slightly more than forty months.

“We must overcome any legal, regulatory, trade and other barriers that block access to prevention, treatment, care and support; commit adequate resources…promote gender equality and empowerment of women,” to mount a comprehensive response to AIDS, the leaders declared. They agreed to scale up effective and comprehensive prevention efforts and “do everything necessary to ensure access to life-saving drugs and prevention tools.”

The declaration is a consensus of Heads of State and Government and leaders from all parts of the world at the end of the General Assembly’s High-Level review on AIDS, which was held from 31 May to 2 June.

The leaders emphasized “the need to strengthen policy and programme linkages and coordination between HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health”, as well as national development plans.

With the feminization of HIVAIDS, world leaders pledged to eliminate gender inequalities and abuse and to increase the capacity of women and girls to protect themselves from HIV. They would do so by providing women with health care, including sexual and reproductive health.

Going further, the heads of State and Government pledged to ensure that women could exercise their right to have control over matters related to their sexuality in order to increase their ability to protect themselves from HIV infection, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. They also committed to “take all necessary measures to create an enabling environment for the empowerment of women and to strengthen their economic independence.”

The leaders also resolved to address rising rates of HIV infection among young people through comprehensive, evidence-based prevention strategies, evidence-based, youth-specific HIV education, and the provision of youth-friendly health services.

In other parts of the 53-paragraph declaration, the leaders also pledged to: 

  • Ensure that the prevention of HIV infection is the mainstay of national, regional and international responses to the pandemic;

  • Intensify efforts to ensure that a wide range of prevention programmes was available in all countries. These include information and communication to reduce risk-taking behaviours and encourage responsible sexual behaviour, including abstinence and fidelity; expanded access to essential commodities, including male and female condoms, and to voluntary counselling and testing;

  • Ensure that pregnant women have access to antenatal care and other HIV services and to increase access to effective treatment for women living with HIV, in order to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV;

  • Intensify efforts to enact, strengthen or enforce laws and other measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against people living with HIV and to develop strategies to combat stigma and social exclusion connected with the epidemic;

  • Strengthen measures to protect women’s human rights and reduce their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS by eliminating all forms of discrimination and sexual exploitation of women, girls and boys, including for commercial reasons.

  • End all forms of violence against women and girls, including harmful traditional practices, abuse, rape and other forms of sexual violence, battering and trafficking in women and girls;

  • Implement fully the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and achieve the goal of universal access to reproductive health by 2015, as set out at the International Conference on Population and Development, and finally,

  • Set in 2006, ambitious national targets that reflect the urgent need to scale up significantly towards the goal of universal access to comprehensive prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010.

The progress made in fighting HIV/AIDS will be reviewed in 2008 and 2011.

Friday’s political declaration was adopted a few days after a new UNAIDS report, documenting the devastating impact of the AIDS pandemic. According to Report on the global AIDS epidemic, more than 65 million people have been infected with HIV, leading to more than 25 million deaths in the past 25 years. Today, some 38.6 million people are living with HIV.

Contact Information:

Abubakar Dungus
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5031
Email: dungus@unfpa.org