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‘Make-it-or-break-it’ AIDS challenge requires extraordinary response: UN agency chief

‘Make-it-or-break-it’ AIDS challenge requires extraordinary response: UN agency chief

Dr. Peter Piot of UNAIDS
The head of the main United Nations agency dealing with HIV/AIDS today said the global threat posed by the disease requires an extraordinary response.

“We are already witnessing a new form of AIDS ‘denialism,’ which maintains that AIDS must be treated as simply one of many public health crises,” the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Dr. Peter Piot said, opening the agency’s 19th board meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.

“AIDS is exceptional – it is a make-or-break challenge, like global warming – and its exceptionality must be maintained.”

While noting that “prevention finally found it voice in 2006,” he added much still needs to be improved.

Dr. Piot emphasized the need for predictable financing and annual increases in funding in order to improve universal access to HIV prevention and treatment, as well as boost development of new technologies for drugs and vaccines. He stated the greatest challenge of the programme in this new phase will be the struggle for social change.

Mr. Piot thanked outgoing Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his leadership in the global fight against AIDS, and welcomed his successor, Ban Ki-moon, who takes over at the UN’s helm in January.