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Goff: Leadership resources for HIV-Aids fight

Goff: Leadership, resources needed for HIV-Aids fight

HIV-Aids is one of the greatest threats to international well-being on the United Nations agenda, with over 42 million people suffering its effects, Foreign Minister Phil Goff told the General Assembly in New York today.

Mr Goff was speaking at the UN high-level meeting on HIV-Aids, attended by international leaders as a follow-up to the Declaration of Commitment on HIV-Aids made by a UN conference two years ago.

“With little evidence of reducing infection rates, and indications that the global rate of infection could actually accelerate as the epidemic expands into the Asia-Pacific region and Eastern Europe, more attention and resources need to be given to combating this scourge,” Mr Goff said.

“HIV-Aids has devastated sub-Saharan Africa, with infection rates as high as 30 percent. In Asia-Pacific there are now more than seven million people affected, with 3000 people newly infected each day. Even in the Pacific, more than 7000 people are affected. We must learn the lessons of Africa and take strong preventative action to avoid following down that track.

“New Zealand has dedicated over $2.5 million to the Global Fund on HIV-Aids, TB and Malaria and to UNAIDS over the last year. We also give around $3 million annually to the UN Population Fund and International Planned Parenthood Federation, which also deal with sexual health issues.

“Above all else, however, political leadership is needed to properly implement HIV-Aids prevention and treatment strategies if we are to avoid an epidemic in our part own of the world.

“A $6 million regional programme on HIV-Aids, which has recently begun in the Pacific, will make an important contribution to controlling Aids. Agreement by the WTO to assist developing countries access affordable drugs to fight serious health problems will also be important.

“Action to improve education and preventative measures as well as improve access to testing and treatment is now essential if the goal of turning around growing infection rates is to be achieved.

“The Conference today provides a critical focus for all countries on how to meet these goals,” Mr Goff said.

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