Meeting of General Assembly: 51st Session - World AIDS Day

Preview Language:   English
02-Dec-1996 01:13:48
Message of General Assembly President on World AIDS Day at General Assembly meeting of the 51st session.

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The message of the President of the General Assembly, Razali Ismail (Malaysia), on the occasion of World AIDS Day, 2 December 1996:

The HIV and AIDS epidemic continues to take its toll, with an estimated 8,500 people newly infected each day. Over 21 million people currently live with HIV/AIDS, 90 per cent of whom live in the developing world. AIDS is a unique disease, the epidemic an appalling tragedy with a global outreach. HIV/AIDS occurs in all countries and societies and does not discriminate. It is permanent in those individuals who are infected. It is permanent in human populations once members of those populations are infected. It affects children, both in the womb and by leaving them orphaned. The nature of HIV transmission is such as to conduce the stigmatization and isolation of the HIV infected.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS was established in January 1996 to coordinate a global response to this global problem. By combining the expertise of five specialized United Nations agencies and the World Bank, the UNAIDS programme hopes to maximize its outreach, and leverage significant resources in support of effective AIDS programmes around the world.

Under the banner "One World, One Hope", World AIDS Day 1996 is an occasion to focus public and official attention on the epidemic. Unfortunately, the spirit of interconnectedness implied in such a slogan is not the reality for many living with HIV. Many sufferers experience discrimination and rejection, being relegated to a marginalized and isolated world dominated by pain, chronic illness and impending mortality. In some places, where fear and stigma dominate the social climate, people hide their HIV status and receive no care whatsoever. Shame, guilt, ignorance and apportioning blame only add to the burden and trauma of sufferers and care- givers alike.

Today, medical science promises new combination-drug therapies, which offer renewed hope of arresting the AIDS virus. Exciting as this breakthrough is, the exorbitant cost of such treatment, at up to $20,000 a year, delivers hope to high-income groups only. This exacerbates the inequalities of access to health care for HIV-infected persons, both within and between countries. In some countries of sub-Saharan Africa, public expenditure on health services totals no more than $10 per person per year. The majority of those with HIV worldwide are, therefore, excluded from any treatment using drug therapy.

Encouragingly, there have been significant successes in preventive strategies that have reduced the spread of HIV by changing social attitudes and high-risk behaviours. These have tended to emphasize access to accurate information, and placed women and high-risk groups at the centre of public health campaigns.

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