Note No. 254

22 September 2003


High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS at UN General Assembly Shows Progress,
But Member Nations Fall Short of Goals


NEW YORK, 22 September (UN Headquarters) -- World leaders reconvened on Monday at the United Nations General Assembly for a high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS, reaffirming their commitment to implementing the 2001 declaration on HIV/AIDS. Two years after a historic Special Session of the UN General Assembly on HIV/AIDS, despite considerable progress, many UN Member States will not meet basic AIDS prevention and care goals established at the 2001 meeting unless efforts are dramatically scaled up, according to reports released today by the UN Secretary-General and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).


 "We have come a long way, but not far enough,” said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. “Clearly, we will have to work harder to ensure that our commitment to the fight against AIDS is matched by the necessary resources and action."


The reports clearly state that the current pace of country activity on HIV/AIDS is insufficient to meet the 2005 goals agreed to by all nations at the Special Session. Those goals, which focus on the rapid expansion of HIV prevention, care and impact alleviation programmes, are seen as a vital foundation to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing the epidemic by 2015.


For example, one of the goals is to ensure that by 2005 at least 80% of pregnant women have access to information, counseling and treatment to prevent HIV transmission to their children. But today, these services remain virtually non-existent in countries worst-affected by HIV/AIDS.


The reports do point to progress on some fronts. Of the 103 countries  surveyed, 93% have set up comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategies and national bodies coordinating the response and 88% have increased public awareness of HIV/AIDS through media campaigns, school-based AIDS education and peer education programmes. The amount of funding for AIDS in low and middle-income countries has also increased substantially in the last year.


 “The goals, set by the Member States themselves two years ago, must be met if we are going to have any realistic chance of reversing this devastating epidemic,” said Dr. Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director.


About the Reports


The reports, prepared by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and by UNAIDS, were based on an analysis of surveys from 103 countries -- representing over 90% of people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide -- as measured against 18 global and national indicators of progress towards implementing the targets and goals of the Declaration of Commitment, which was unanimously adopted at the Special Session on HIV/AIDS in 2001.


The reports document a significant increase, especially among the worst-affected countries, in the number of nations with comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategic plans and national AIDS councils -- many chaired at the highest levels of government. However, they also clearly indicate that, despite this important progress, numerous countries risk missing the Declaration’s targets due to strategic gaps in key areas of HIV policy.


In addition, countries report that despite the existence of national strategies, actual HIV responses remain largely concentrated in health ministries, and do not yet encompass the full range of government departments, such as education, agriculture and human rights, required for a comprehensive response to the epidemic.




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For more information and copies of the Secretary-General’s report, contact UNIS Vienna. You may also visit the following websites for more information: