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Some 5,000 attend African meeting on AIDS

Some 5,000 attend African meeting on AIDS as authorities prepare for trade talks

Some 5,000 people involved in the international effort to eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa are meeting this week in Nigeria’s capital to examine such issues as how new intellectual property (IP) policies and trade agreements can help ensure that nearly 26 million HIV-infected Africans have access to life-saving drugs.

The 14th International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (ICASA) got underway here today and will end on 9 December, one week before finance and trade ministers from around the globe gather in Hong Kong for pivotal World Trade Organization talks.

ICASA participants will explore the impact of recent international developments in trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) on public health and how new provisions can reduce the prices of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) in Africa. These discussions are likely to continue at the Sixth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference from 13 to18 December in Hong Kong.

Following on its leadership development programmes in countries, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has organized ICASA skills-building sessions to boost knowledge of how to mainstream HIV/AIDS into local and district government programmes, how to deliver more comprehensive responses to the epidemic and how to promote community dialogues about the disease.

The Executive Director of Programmes at the Nigeria Television Authority and a representative of the newly established African Broadcast Media Partnership against HIV/AIDS, Peter Igho, will chair a UNDP forum highlighting the success of UNDP’s Leadership for Development programme in Botswana, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Senegal.

The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) will highlight the leadership roles of HIV-positive women in calling attention to the issues that concern them.

UNIFEM is also using the opportunity provided by the ICASA conference to launch a new campaign called “Who Cares for the Caregiver?” which will put a spotlight on the roles that women and girls play as the main or only caregivers for those living with HIV/AIDS and the severe impact of this burden on their education, food security, health and livelihoods.

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