The President Sir Ratu Epeli Nailatikau was appointed chair of the 2015 Asia and Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS, which is being held in Bangkok, Thailand from January 28 to January 30, 2015.
In accepting the nomination, the President said he was honored to take on the role, albeit for the second time. The President also chaired the Intergovernmental meeting in 2012.
The Executive Secretary for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Dr Shamshad Akhtar said the meeting delegates recognize the strong leadership that the President has demonstrated over the years in creating greater public awareness and understanding of HIV and AIDS, and in leading the charge on developing a proactive response.
The United Nations has so far praised Fiji’s response to HIV and AIDS especially the legislative reforms incorporated in the Fijian Constitution and which also incorporates the HIV Decree of 2011 and provides a wide range of human rights and freedoms.
The current meeting in Bangkok aims to adopt a forward-looking strategy to achieve the global vision of ending AIDS. The global targets which will be part of the Sustainable Development Goals from 2016 include, among others, ensuring that 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of people diagnosed with HIV positive are on sustained treatment through antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90 percent of people on ART treatment have a suppressed viral load or have stronger resistance to the virus.
The targets also include reducing the annual number of new HIV infections by more than 75 percent to 500,000 by the year 2020, and achieving zero discrimination. Underlying these targets is the commitment to zero discrimination and leaving no one behind – a human rights based approach critical to protecting marginalized populations, eliminating stigma and discrimination and making the right to health a reality.
In addition to chairing the intergovernmental meeting, the President today also attended a side event on engaging young people to create an enabling environment for access to health and social services relating to HIV and sexual and reproductive health.
The President will also chair the side event on the regional perspectives on the UNAIDS strategy for 2016 to 2021, on Friday apart from attending other side events.