Sweden: standing up for HIV prevention

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Sweden: standing up for HIV prevention

10 May 2006


Every day nearly 14 000 people around the world become infected with HIV. This means nearly 5 million new infections a year. An effective response to AIDS requires access to both HIV treatment and prevention. Unfortunately, HIV prevention efforts have for some time been overshadowed by the increased attention on treatment.  The complexities of having to discuss sensitive issues such as sex and drugs also contribute to denial and complacency. 

Recognizing the importance of HIV prevention as a central part of all AIDS work, the Government of Sweden and UNAIDS invited a group of policy makers, civil society representatives and the media to Stockholm this week to work together towards building a vocal constituency around HIV prevention.

UNAIDS Executive Director, Dr Peter Piot and Lennarth Hjelmaker, the Swedish HIV/AIDS Ambassador.

Hosted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), in collaboration with UNAIDS and the Swedish Association for Sexual Education (RFSU), the international meeting centered around setting priorities for more effective HIV prevention. This includes giving impetus to HIV prevention; advocating for the effective use of resources available for AIDS and getting all partners to work together.

Giving the global overview of the state of HIV prevention today, UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot said, “important progress has been made, but unfortunately it is not enough. Scaling up HIV prevention is critical for the success of the overall response to AIDS.”

Sweden has recognized the importance of emphasizing the importance of HIV prevention. Sweden’s contributions to the AIDS response have increased dramatically in the past few years, and its contribution to UNAIDS in 2006 increased by 33%, from around $ 20.5 million to $ 27.5 million.

Recognizing the importance of HIV prevention is only the first step,” said Carin Jämtin, Minister for International Development Cooperation in Sweden, speaking at the meeting. “Translating the recognition into reality on the ground is something else.  To move forward on prevention we need open eyes and open minds.”

Sweden is actively preparing for the 2006 High Level Meeting on AIDS, to be held in New York later this month. Sweden will become the Chair of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) at UNAIDS’ next board meeting at the end of June 2006.