United Nations Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin today issued the following statement on the occasion of the XIX International AIDS Conference, which is taking place in Washington, D.C., July 22 to July 27. The conference brings together public health advocates, scientists, policymakers, members of the HIV-affected community, and other stakeholders to advance the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“To help defeat the AIDS epidemic, we must ensure that women have access to modern contraceptives and voluntary family planning services, and we must better integrate sexual and reproductive health services and HIV/AIDS programs.
“The AIDS epidemic has taken a tragic toll on countries, communities, and families across the world. Last year alone, an estimated 1.7 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses, and more than 60 million people have been infected with HIV since the epidemic began.
“According to the United Nations, most HIV infections are sexually transmitted or associated with pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health are closely intertwined, yet they are often addressed separately – through separate programs, with separate funding, and in separate facilities.
“To more effectively combat the AIDS epidemic, we need to better integrate sexual and reproductive health services and HIV/AIDS programs. Integration can have a number of benefits: helping to prevent the spread of HIV, improving access to and quality of care for patients, and maximizing the use of financial resources dedicated to health care. We also need to make sure that women have access to modern contraceptives and voluntary family planning services. Around the world, 222 million women want, but don’t have, access to modern contraceptives. By addressing the unmet need for these life-saving health services and supplies and by promoting comprehensive, integrated health services, we can make progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals on HIV/AIDS, maternal health, and children’s health.
“In the midst of the devastation caused by HIV/AIDS, there is hope. The work of the global community, including UNAIDS and its leader Michel Sidibé, is saving lives and improving livelihoods. More than 8 million people around the world had access to treatment last year – a record number. Globally, the numbers of new HIV infections is decreasing: In the past two years, the number of new HIV infections among children has dropped by 24 percent. This issue has been a key priority for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who convened UN agencies, governments, and others last year to launch the ‘Countdown to Zero’ report on virtually eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015.
“While we have made important progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, we can’t ease up now. This week, the international community has gathered together to turn the tide against this destructive disease. Achieving this goal will require a sustained commitment from everyone. It will also require a strong focus on sexual and reproductive health.
“The conference provides an extraordinary opportunity to improve lives around the world. The international community can – and must – break through the dark cloud of AIDS to build a brighter tomorrow.”
As part of the global AIDS response, the UN Foundation supports partners including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; UNAIDS; and (RED). In addition, the UN Foundation’s Universal Access Project works to achieve universal access to reproductive health care – Millennium Development Goal 5 – which leads to healthier women, stronger families, and more stable, prosperous communities. The mHealth Alliance, hosted by the UN Foundation, acts as a convener of the mobile health (mHealth) community and seeks to share the collective lessons learned and best practices developed so that mHealth can continue to advance improved health outcomes, including through the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
The UN Foundation also joins nearly 40 partners that have focused commitments on HIV/AIDS in support of the UN Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Child movement, pledging to make crucial interventions in the areas of prevention, treatment, care, policy development, stigma reduction, and strengthening health services. Every Woman Every Child was launched to advance the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which calls for the coordination of HIV/AIDS-related efforts and interventions, for example by integrating services for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV into more comprehensive services targeting women and children, including a life-cycle approach to health for women.
About The United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.