Regional AIDS Conference at the City of Knowledge

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Representatives of government and civil society, scientists, researchers, and people living with HIV participated from July 24th to 25th in the Regional AIDS Conference at the City of Knowledge, side event to the 20th International AIDS Conference 2014, held in Melbourne, Australia. The meeting was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the City of Knowledge Foundation, in collaboration with UNAIDS, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The conference was aimed at bringing to our region some of the major debates that took place in Australia, in order to generate a discussion with experts and members of our community, in which the scope and specific challenges for Latin America were discussed. In addition, the meeting intended to increase the visibility of the work done in HIV in Latin America, creating a platform for the exchange of knowledge and experiences, and promoting synergy and debate among the various stakeholders in HIV response.

The conference opening counted with the participation of Freddy Justiniano, Director of the Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean of the UNDP; Eduardo Araújo, Vice President of Communications for the City of Knowledge Foundation; Martín Santiago, UNDP Resident Representative and United Nations Resident Coordinator; Edith Tristán, Representative of the ICW (International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS); and César Núñez, Director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Latin America.

According to Freddy Justiniano, "for the region the lack of comprehensive and continuous actions feeds the deficiencies that don’t allow us to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, care, treatment and support. But we can not fail to highlight some of the progress. As an example, the UNDP together with other UN agencies contributed to the efforts of national institutions, as well as civil society, to develop mappings on HIV legislation in 22 countries in the region. We have also provided assistance to the modification of laws in 8 countries that have been enacted, and have intensified training programs.”

Eduardo Araújo, of the City of Knowledge Foundation, stressed "the commitment of the Foundation to knowledge management in such an important issue as HIV."

For his part, Martin Santiago said the event "should serve as a precedent to create more encounters that allow to share knowledge and give voice to the people and to HIV." "The goal of sustainable development for the international community is to eradicate HIV," he said.

Meanwhile, Edith Tristán emphasized that "a person with HIV who is given the opportunity, can do a lot for itself and for other people living with HIV."

Finally, César Núñez remarked that "the International Conference seeks to accelerate the pace to maintain and exceed the results achieved to date, and not to abandon our efforts. In the world there should be no place for discrimination and unfair penalty. Everyone has the right to equal access to quality services for the treatment of HIV. We must ensure that all people need to be taken into account or they are at risk of being neglected. If these structural factors are not addressed and the interests of the people take precedence, we will never put an end to AIDS and breakthroughs after 2015 will not be achieved.”

In 2013, about 1.6 million people (adults and children) lived with HIV in the region. There were about 94,000 new HIV infections (new infections fell by 3% in the period 2005-2013). Treatment coverage reaches only 4% of people living with HIV in Latin America.

This regional conference also offered some of the most relevant presentations that were held in Melbourne, relayed via webcast, simultaneously translated into Spanish and followed by a discussion between experts from the region.

The City of Knowledge Convention Center served as the space for exchange and debate thanks to the participation via polycom of 10 panelists from 9 countries of the region, which provided participants with the latest developments in relation to HIV. Panelists from Argentina, El Salvador, Uruguay, Guatemala, Colombia, Dominican Republic, USA, Mexico and Brazil participated in the meeting.