HIV charity calls for international action on AIDs

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On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the first medical report of AIDS, Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is calling for renewed international action to tackle the World-wide epidemic.

From 31st of May to the 2nd of June Nick Partridge, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) will be at the United Nations’ comprehensive review and high level meeting on HIV and AIDS in New York, where the ‘Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS’ will be reviewed.

Mr Partridge said “It’s 25 years since the first report of AIDS. HIV is preventable and treatable, but we are still seeing record numbers of new diagnoses each year, both in the UK and abroad.

“Progress on tackling AIDS has been made but there is still much to do. Last year 3 million people died with AIDS and for every five people in the developing world who need HIV drugs, only one person gets them. We need widespread prevention programmes and a greater commitment from governments and pharmaceutical companies to making anti-retroviral drugs widely available. Without this we’re fighting a losing battle.”

The group says prevention work is vital and successes have already been seen with campaigns reducing the spread of HIV in some countries including Thailand and Brazil. Access to testing is an essential element as the vast majority of people living with HIV are unaware of their infection.

THT is pushing for the health infrastructure in many countries to be strengthened if progress is to be made on tackling the epidemic and for antireteroviral treatments need to be made affordable and available to those who need them. Second and third line treatments will also be in higher demand as drug resistance becomes more prevalent.

The UN comprehensive review and high level meeting on HIV and AIDS is assessing progress thus far and outlining what more needs to be done in order to meet the international commitments on tackling the epidemic.

Tony Blair, reacted to questions from Conservative leader, David Cameron, in Parliament last week, regarding the government’s commitment to combating AIDs.

The Prime Minister called for a “coordinated effort from the international community” and said the government is working with drug and pharmaceutical companies to find cheap treatments for AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria.

He signalled an aim for “universal access by 2010” through a £1.5 billion spending budget.