UN and Iranian Experts Discuss HIV/AIDS Status in Post 2015 Development Agenda
With the Presence of a number of operating United Nations Agencies in Iran, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative attends a high level meeting with Iranian officials to discus the position and status of HIV on the post 2015 Development Agenda.
When the targets for the Millennium Development Goals were set more than 13 years ago, the current rapid progress towards reversing the global HIV epidemic could not have been foreseen. Globally, the fight against the epidemic continues to change the lives of countless individuals living with HIV.
While global achievements are considerable, the epidemic is far from being defeated. By 2015, HIV/AIDS – as the sixth MDG – will still be an unfinished goal. Today, across the planet, HIV remains the sixth leading cause of adult mortality and the largest killer among women aged 15–49 years.
As the 2015 deadline for achieving the MDGs approaches, policy makers are gearing up for a post 2015 agenda. According to some experts such agenda must continue to include HIV/AIDS as a priority. They reason that the new Post-2015 agenda should include ambitious, measurable targets aimed at ending AIDS.
With this goal in mind, a high-level meeting was held by the Iranian Academy of Medical Sciences (IAMS) on 19 June to discuss HIV status at global, regional and country level in view of AIDS in Post 2015 Development Agenda.
Dr. Seyyed Ali Reza Marandi, President of the Academy, Dr. Mohammad Hossein Niknam, Acting Minister for International Affairs of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Dr. Fardad Doroudi, UNAIDS Country Coordinator and Dr Mohammad Mehdi Gouya, Head of center for Communicable Disease Control of the Ministry of Health, were among the speakers at the event.
Dr. Marandi began the meeting by welcoming Mr. Lewis to Iran and hoping for fruitful discussions from the meeting. Following the opening remarks, Dr. Niknam referred to the country visit of Mr. Michel Sidibe – UNAIDS Executive Director – in 2010, in which Mr. Sidibe described Iran’s prison-based HIV-related interventions as “evidence-based, and marked by tolerance, pragmatism and compassion”.
While pointing out significant progress made at global level in decreasing number of AIDS-related deaths and newly infected cases, Dr. Niknam described HIV/AIDS as an unfinished job – a challenge that needed to be kept high on the list of priorities for the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
In his remarks, Mr. Lewis reaffirmed the successes of the global battle against HIV/AIDS, and encouraged a shift away from the emergency response mode. He called on all partners to “Get to Zero”.
“We need to move away from the emergency response mode – which still characterizes so much of what we do. We now need to focus on the importance of getting to zero. This means: zero infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, zero prejudice and discrimination,” said Mr. Lewis.
Mr. Lewis said that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is now one of the top two regions in the world with a rapid growth in new HIV infections. He noted Iran’s success in countering HIV in a number of areas and suggested that the country’s achievements in reversing the HIV epidemic must now be shared with other countries of the region.
“The voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran is respected because we have seen what Iran can do on HIV in the past several years. There are still many places where there is a great degree of discomfort about openly mentioning a set of evidence-based responses which saves lives. Here in Iran we talk about them quite openly – and we do so on the basis of evidence,” added Mr. Lewis, “this is remarkable and needs to be remarked upon.”
Mr. Lewis concluded his remarks by assuring the participants of the United Nations’ full support to Iran’s response to the HIV/AIDS phenomenon.
Following the remarks by the UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Doroudi, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, presented the current status of HIV at the global and regional levels. He demonstrated that HIV is growing significantly in the MENA region. Dr Doroudi pointed to three priority needs for the MENA region: reducing the rate of sexual transmission; increasing treatment coverage and eliminating transmission from mother to child.
“AIDS is not over, but its end has begun,” concluded Dr. Doroudi.
Dr. Gouya also described the national response including achievements and challenges in his presentation.
The meeting concluded by making a number of recommendations to the national stakeholders in order to achieve a more effective HIV response and inclusion of AIDS in Post-2015 Development Agenda.
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