The UNAIDS Global Staff Meeting took place at the Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1st to 5th October. The overall goal of the Global Staff Meeting is to put both the organization at large, and all staff in a position to respond effectively to the challenges and expectations of UNAIDS constituents in scaling up global and country level response. The agenda of the meeting included among others, skills building workshops, group discussions, panelists’ reflections, conferences as well as feedback and evaluation of all the activities.
UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot participated in a forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C., discussing the United States’ important role in the global AIDS response and the upcoming reauthorization of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
During his speech, Dr Piot noted the leadership role that has been played by the United States in addressing the global AIDS epidemic, and called on the country to maintain and strengthen this commitment. “We must accelerate our efforts, and broaden them—by bolstering our long-term, sustainable efforts to fight this disease,” he said.
In the run up to the International Women’s Summit, twenty five members of the GCWA Leadership Council gathered in Nairobi for their 3rd meeting since the creation of the Coalition in 2004. Representing all regions of the world, participants came together to do more to address the critical importance of gender dynamics in the AIDS epidemic and women’s needs in the response. Dr Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director who took part in the meeting, congratulated the work done over the past year and called on the Leadership Council members to go beyond analysis and to find concrete solutions that work for women.
UNAIDS is guided by a Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) which serves as its governing body. The PCB has representatives from all regions of the world, the UNAIDS Cosponsors, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including associations of people living with HIV. This meeting addresses UNAIDS role in strengthening global coordination on AIDS and development of the Programme Coordinating Board. The 20th Programme Coordinating Board established a process to elaborate further on UNAIDS' role in strengthening Global Coordination on AIDS, and how to develop the UNAIDS' Programme Coordinating Board into a more relevant and effective policy-making Board.
The conference aims to serve as a platform for deliberations on the key contentious issues relating to HIV prevention, treatment and care. The AIDS response in South Africa has been given a boost with the successful endorsement of two key processes: the restructured South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) and a new national AIDS plan which will guide South Africa’s response to AIDS over the next five years.“If South Africa can achieve its aims, the country will be well on the way to leading Africa into a new phase in the AIDS response,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, at the opening of the third South African Aids conference in Durban.
As part of the 61st session of the General Assembly, UN Plus – the UN system-wide group of staff living with HIV – met with the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to brief him on the key achievements of the group since its inception in March 2005 and to discuss the opportunities and challenges that UN positive staff face at work. During the meeting, a delegation of UN Plus members presented the Secretary-General with specialized position papers covering four main issues of concern: stigma and discrimination, confidentiality, medical insurance, and travel restrictions and mobility.
The UNAIDS Executive Director stressed that AIDS has turned into one of the most serious challenges our planet has ever faced, ranking with climate change, international terrorism, and the threat of nuclear war as “one of the defining issues of our time.” “AIDS is forcing us to adopt new approaches, look at things differently, and transform the way we do things,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot as he gave the 2007 Payne Lecture at Stanford University on May 9.
At the launch of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Control Report, UNAIDS Executive Director highlighted the need for TB and HIV communities to scale up collaboration if the goal of universal access to quality TB and HIV prevention, diagnostic, treatment and care services is to be achieved. The report, released by WHO, indicates that the worldwide TB epidemic has leveled off for the first time since it was declared a public health emergency in 1993. But despite signs that the epidemic may be slowing, there are still major impediments to rapid progress against TB - prominent among them being the lack of investment, uneven access to diagnosis and treatment within countries, the emergence of XDR-TB, the inextricable links between HIV and TB and the ageing population.
Representatives of 27 European Union and neighbouring countries met in Bremen, Germany to discuss ways of strengthening political leadership in the response to AIDS. Over 600 people attended the conference which was organised by the German Federal Government as part of its 2007 European Union Presidency. UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot spoke on the opening day about the epidemic in the region and actions necessary to curb the epidemic. The second day of the Conference included workshops covering many key aspects of the AIDS response in the region including presentations on human rights, migration, stigma, gender and issues concerning sex work, injecting drug use and men who have sex with men.
During a visit to Bangkok, Thailand, UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot met with the Prime Minister of Thailand and celebrated the International Women’s Day with the Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and with Ms. Joana Merlin-Scholtes, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Thailand.
Dr Piot also released a statement stressing the importance of addressing gender inequality and the feminization of the AIDS epidemics. “Women, inside and outside the home, must have the economic, social and political power to stand up for their rights and protect themselves and their families from violence and disease.” He also stated that “to stop the feminization of the epidemic, as well as the epidemic itself, we have to initiate legal but also social, cultural and economic changes to challenge some of the most pervasive social patterns and gender norms that continue to fuel the AIDS epidemic.”
UNAIDS Executive Director was in Spain from 9-12 February to meet with government officials to discuss ways of enhancing collaboration and strengthening the response to the AIDS epidemic. During his visit, Dr Piot met with the Spanish Minister of Health, Elena Salgado, in Madrid to discuss the ongoing collaboration between UNAIDS and the Spanish Government and to brief her on the latest developments in the AIDS response.Dr Piot also traveled to the Basque Country where he met with leading members of the Basque Government including President Juan José Ibarretxe, the Minister of Health, Gabriel Inclán and the Minister of Housing and Social Affairs, Javier Madrazo.
UNAIDS Executive Director was in Dublin, Ireland on Tuesday 30th January to sign with Conor Lenihan TD, Minister of State for Irish Aid, a new €30 million, five year partnership between Ireland and UNAIDS. The agreement strengthens Ireland's commitment to the response to AIDS and confirms its leading position in the global response. The Minister of State for Irish Aid, Conor Lenihan TD, and UNAIDS Executive Director, Dr Peter Piot, also met with fourteen Irish Aid sponsored UN Volunteer (UNV) Interns who will travel overseas next week to work in the developing world for a period of one year.
AIDS leaders from the United Kingdom and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) came together in India for a joint mission to gain greater insight into the country’s AIDS response. During the four-day visit, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Development (DFID) and Dr Peter Piot, Xecutive Director of UNAIDS met with political leaders, senior government officials and parliamentarians, students, representatives from non governmental organizations and from the donor community.
As part of the mission, the delegation visited Patna in the North Indian state of Bihar on Saturday 16 December where Dr Piot and Sir Chakrabarti noted the significant progress made in this province since their last visit, including the establishment of India’s first ‘Legislative Forum on HIV and AIDS’ to raise AIDS awareness among policy makers in the state and to build capacity to address the challenges posed by AIDS.
Some 260 participants gathered in Lusaka for the 19th Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS governing board meeting. The meeting brought together representatives from government, civil society, donors and the United Nations to push for greater UN action to strengthen country efforts against AIDS.