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Holy See Message to U.N. on AIDS "All of Us Must Clearly Step Up Our Efforts"
NEW YORK, MAY 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement which Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer at the United Nations, gave today at the 61st session of the U.N. general assembly on the implementation of the declaration of commitment on HIV/AIDS.

* * *

61st Session of the U.N. General Assembly

Agenda item 46: Follow-up to the outcome of the 26th special session: Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS

New York, May 22, 2007

Madam President,

My delegation thanks you for convening this important progress report meeting where states can share the steps they have taken in their movement towards the goal of universal access to HIV prevention programs, treatment, care and support by 2010. Their honest assessments and commitment to work together are surely a movement in the right direction in caring for all those affected by HIV/AIDS.

The detailed and comprehensive report of the secretary-general lists the greatest challenges: caring for the 39.5 million people presently living with HIV; reducing the number of people dying annually from AIDS, which in 2006 was 2.9 million; preventing new infections, which currently run at some 4 million per year; and taking special care of young people, who accounted for 40% of new infections last year.

While the numbers speak for themselves, they do not capture the whole story. The fact that only 2 million of the 7.1 million people needing antiretroviral drugs receive them represents a sorrowful ratio. Quantifying the resources globally required is thought to be in the region of $18 billion and $22 billion for 2007 and 2008 respectively for low- or middle-income countries for HIV.

These apparently large numbers actually represent only $3 to $4 per person on the planet. In aggregate, the numbers seem overwhelming, but taken in their proper context, person by person, they are really only a fraction of what we as a world community can and should do. All of us must clearly step up our efforts.

That is why, for its part, the Holy See seizes this occasion to reaffirm its commitment to intensify its response to this disease, through its ongoing support for a worldwide network of some 1,600 hospitals, 6,000 clinics, and 12,000 initiatives of a charitable and social nature in developing countries.

Madam President, the secretary-general's report makes five recommendations, and given the time limitations, my delegation would like to address briefly two of them.

First, under the heading "Know your epidemic and intensify HIV prevention," my delegation believes that providing information and opportunities for an education respectful of naturally based values is essential both in the development of scientific advancement and for personal prevention. There can be no excuse that, 25 years into this epidemic, all people in all countries still do not have sound, accurate and reliable information so as to educate themselves and live safer lives.

Second, under the heading "Report progress on international commitments," it appears that, in this house, we oftentimes speak of transparency and collaboration with regard to our respective commitments. My delegation encourages all states to be more forthcoming in providing accurate numbers with respect to monitoring and evaluation, however difficult this may be. A factual understanding as to where the world community stands on this matter will serve us well as we attempt to address all the problems associated with HIV/AIDS and to care for all.

Thank you, Madam President.