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UN adopts plan to end AIDS epidemic by 2030


06-09-2016 11:00 BJT

World leaders and the United Nations ramped up the fight to end AIDS on Wednesday. They adopted a landmark declaration to fast-track the AIDS fight, and end the epidemic by the year 2030. The political declaration at the UN AIDS Summit comes alongside significant gains in providing life-saving medication to patients, reducing new infections among children, and a dip in AIDS-related deaths.

In 2004, Loyce Maturu was just 12 years old when she found out she was sick.

"Knowing that I had HIV and TB made me cry, I got depressed, I lost my confidence and I thought I was going to die, but here I am today," Maturu said.

Huge strides made in the battle against HIV/AIDS have given a boost to the fight, and new hope to the 37 million people living with the disease. Riding that momentum, world leaders pledged to end the epidemic in the next 14 years.

"Excellencies, ending the AIDS epidemic would be one of the greatest achievements of our lifetimes. It can be done and it must be done," Mogens Lykketoft, president of UN General Assembly, said.

"Today is the moment, therefore, that collectively, we signal our intentions to strike out for victory, to fast-track efforts over the next five years and to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030," UN chief Ban Ki-moon said.

U.N. member nations agreed to speed up plans to cut the number of new HIV infections from slightly more than two million now to fewer than 500-thousand, half the number of AIDS-related deaths to under 500,000 and eliminate the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS by the year 2020.

Lending his voice to the fight, Nelson Mandela's grandson, Ndaba, recalled how his father had died from AIDS and spoke up for AIDS survivors. He also had this advice.

"Always carry two condoms. At least two. One for you to use without fail, and another to give to someone who isn't carrying one. It could save your life, and it could save theirs," Ndaba said.

Gains are already being made in prevention and treatment: 17 million people now have access to life-saving anti-retroviral drugs. Thailand just became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to eliminate mother-to-child transmission, according to the World Health Organization.

Despite these milestones, the rate of new HIV transmissions has been a problem. UNAIDS estimates that the decline in new infections has remained nearly static in the past few years while new HIV infections in eastern Europe and central Asia have spiked 57 percent a reminder the fight to end AIDS remains an uphill battle.

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