The United Nations is taking part in the largest-ever AIDS conference covering Eastern Europe and Central Asia which kicks off tomorrow in Moscow.
Some 2,000 participants from 50 countries will gather for three days to assess regional achievements, share results and determine how to tackle the challenge of curbing the epidemic’s regional impact.
Focusing on the theme “Accelerating Access to HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care for All,” the event will be hosted by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); the UN-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the International AIDS Society; and the Federal Service on Surveillance Protection of Consumer Rights and Wellbeing of the Russian Federation.
“Eastern Europe and Central Asia is at a critical turning point in the epidemic,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, noting that governments, civil society and communities are displaying indications of enhanced leadership and cooperation.
“However, HIV-related stigma and discrimination continues to hamper HIV prevention efforts in the region and renewed political action is needed if real progress is to be achieved.”
Efforts to tackle the HIV/AIDS challenge have borne fruit in the region, with the estimated number of new HIV infections dropping from 230,000 in 2001 to 150,000 in 2007.
But the number of people living with the epidemic continues to grow, according to UNAIDS and the UN World Health Organization (WHO).
The gathering will examine the feminization of the epidemic, which is affecting an ever-larger number of women; the impact of HIV/AIDS on young people; and increased heterosexual transmission.
This is the second Eastern Europe and Central Asia AIDS Conference ( EECAAC II), following the inaugural session held in May 2006.