Belize has shown a 33 per cent decrease in the number of new HIV/AIDS infections, and the mother-to-child transmission rate is presently less than six per cent even; though Belize has the highest prevalence rate of HlV in Central America and one of the highest in the Caribbean, Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin informed a high level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last Wednesday to Friday, June 8-10
The central purpose of the meeting was to review the progress achieved on the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. Provisions were also made to guide and intensify the global response to HIV and AIDS by promoting continued political commitment and engaging leaders to respond at community, local, national, regional and international levels to halt and reverse the HIV epidemic and mitigate its impact.
Marin said the Government of Belize has scaled up its treatment plans to meet complete universal access by 2015. The government is now able to cover about 70 percent of those requiring care.
UN member states pledged to increase global treatment, care, and support, implement various new and innovative preventative approaches, and continue to advance human rights, reduce stigma, discrimination and violence. The meeting closed with participants committed to move forward by redoubling efforts to achieve by 2015, all the Millennium Development Goals by providing universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support with the goal to ending the global HIV epidemic.
It was noted in the meeting that despite substantial progress over three decades since AIDS was first reported, the HIV epidemic remains an unprecedented human catastrophe inflicting immense suffering on countries, communities and families throughout the world. At present, more than 30 million people have died from AIDS, with another estimated 33 million people living with HIV and more than 16 million children orphaned because of AIDS. Furthermore, more than 7,000 new HIV infections occur daily, mostly among people in low and middle-income countries
The participants at the meeting recognized that HIV and AIDS constitute a global emergency and pose one of the most formidable challenges to the development, progress and stability of respective societies and the world at large.
Funding to fight the global HIV epidemic has increased eightfold from $1.8 billion in 2001 to $16 billion in 20l0, as a result of the worldwide commitment since the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2006 Political on HIV/AIDS. This represents the largest amount dedicated to combating a single disease in history, but despite such extraordinary efforts, global funding devoted to HIV and AIDS response still does not measure up to the magnitude of the epidemic either at the national or international level.
The global financial and economic crises continues to have a negative impact on the anti-AIDS response at all levels, including the fact that for the first time, international assistance did not increase from 2008 - 2009 levels.
Health Minister Pablo Marin and Special Envoy to Belize for Women and Children, Mrs. Kim Simpliss-Barrow led the seven-member delegation which represented Belize at the meeting. The Reporter