Jonathan seeks final solution to HIV/AIDS

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United Nations –  President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday called for a “final solution’’ to  HIV/AIDS epidemic, which he said has killed nearly 30 million people in the past three decades.

Addressing a UN Security Council debate on the impact of HIV/AIDS on international peace and security, Jonathan warned that the consequence of inaction would be great to contemplate.

“Thirty years since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, the time is ripe for final solution. I reiterate Nigeria’s unequivocal support for a global response to this scourge. The human, social and economic costs of inaction are too great to contemplate.

“As a consequence it is incumbent upon the Security Council to set clear, decisive goals in order that our efforts to maintain peace can add to the armoury of weapons against HIV/AIDS,’’ he said.

Jonathan also used the occasion to highlight the scourge of gender-based violence relating to HIV/AIDS, especially in conflict situations.

“Nigeria joins the international community in ensuring that women and girls are adequately protected.

“A significant challenge, however, is the absence of formal modes of operations in the many unconventional military compositions like militias.

“This makes it difficult to mainstream HIV programmes into their operations and evaluate progress,’’ he said.

On the impact of HIV/AIDS to international peace and security, Jonathan said Nigeria as the largest contributor to peacekeeping in Africa and the fourth largest in the world, would ensure that its armed forces are protected against the pandemic.

He pledged that HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care would be integrated into the country’s armed forces health services.

President Ali Bongo of Gabon, whose country heads the Security Council in June, chaired the Security Council meeting, which was also attended by the Deputy President of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe.

The Council adopted a resolution that underlined that urgent and coordinated international action was required to curb the impact of the HIV epidemic in conflict and post conflict countries.

The Council recognised UN peacekeeping operations as important contributors to an integrated response to HIV/AIDS.

The UN General Assembly will on Wednesday hold a special session on HIV/AIDS.

The high-level meeting is expected to set key figures on how many people would get special treatment to hold back the disease.

A landmark study concluded last month revealed that HIV treatment itself can prevent HIV transmission to others, according to UNAIDS.

On Monday, the Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) called on world leaders attending the high level meeting to put nine million people on AIDS treatment over the next four years in the face of “strong opposition from several key funders.’’

The group expressed concern that a decade of undeniable progress in the global response to HIV/AIDS is at a crossroads because of waning support from donor governments

There are an estimated 34 million people living with AIDS and more than nine million are still not getting treatment, according to UN statistics.

About 6.6 million people are on treatment and the rest do not know they have AIDS. (NAN)

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