A United Nations high level meeting on HIV/AIDS concluded in New York on Friday with heads of state, HIV/AIDS organizations and activists adopting a declaration calling for “zero new infections, zero stigma and zero-related deaths" and urging governments to dig deeper for financial resources to sustain the global fight against the pandemic.
Noting that traditional donors are cutting back HIV/AIDS funding, the statement called for a micro-tax on foreign exchange transactions to raise the $24 billion needed to provide antiretroviral drugs to 15 million people around the world by the year 2015.
The declaration urged vigorous action to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV, reduce by half the number of deaths from tuberculosis among people living with HIV, and boost campaigns to prevent HIV transmission among the most vulnerable.
Said UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss of Switzerland: "This declaration is strong, the targets are time-bound and set a clear and workable road map, not only for the next five years, but beyond. UN member states have recognized that HIV is one of the most formidable challenges of our time and have demonstrated true leadership ... in their commitments to work towards a world without AIDS."
Countries pledged to increase their AIDS budgets to collectively attain between $22 billion to $24 billion assistance to low- and middle-income countries by 2015.
Former US President Bill Clinton said the targets are achievable. He urged the global community to pull together to drive the rate of new infections toward zero.
SafAIDS Executive Director Loice Chingandu, in the high-level meeting, said the goals are achievable with coordination, political will and commitment from all stakeholders.
Zimbabwe Minister of Health Henry Madzorera told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that he will take the declaration back to Harare for adoption by the government. He said Zimbabwe is leading by example in efforts to raise local funds to fight HIV.