Indonesia sees progress: President
Nusa Dua, 10 August 2009 - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) was upbeat about the growing trend among Indonesians to be more open about AIDS and HIV issues while underscoring the importance of constant efforts to respond to AIDS.
“While psychological barriers remain, we are seeing progress. Many people are now not afraid to speak up and share their stories. They are involved in fnding solutions to the diffculties AIDS brings to their lives,” said SBY in his keynote address at the opening of the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) at the Garuda Wisnu
Kencana Cultural Park, South Bali, on Sunday.
SBY said that in other parts of Indonesia, more and more people were seeking counseling and being tested for HIV. “This is a good sign that saw a decrease in the stigma attached to HIV in Indonesia. We also saw the provision of antiretroviral therapy to some 18,000 people all over Indonesia, free of charge,” the President pointed out.
Some 4,000 delegates and media representatives from 65 countries are taking part in the fve-day biennial international congress on AIDS, starting on Sunday. They include health care professionals, public policy leaders, community advocates, activists, researchers and journalists.
The event offers four main issues: understanding the epidemic and strengthening prevention efforts; strengthening partnership for treatment, care and support; understanding and addressing socio-cultural, economic and political determinants; as well as leadership and broadening the response.
According to SBY, there are currently some 270,000 people living with HIV in Indonesia, which counts as a low-level epidemic. “However, we cannot overlook this number because, like in other countries, the actual number could be higher -signifcantly higher.”
The President warned that the number of Indonesians living with HIV might reach two million unless preventive measures were taken. The struggle against AIDS required a constant process of trial and error and a constant search for new innovations. “At this juncture, we can already point to a few lessons that are critical to a successful response,” SBY stressed.
Quoting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said that AIDS is one of the most devastating epidemics in history, the President emphasized the importance of adopting effective and inter-sectoral policies that aimed at preventing, containing and reversing the spread of AIDS.
“These policies do not come by themselves, they only come by way of leaderships. Without leaderships, the fght against AIDS becomes sporadic, reactive, without focus, lacking resources and will eventually lose [their] sting.”
During the opening ceremony, Prof Dr Zubairi Djoerban, chairman of the 9th ICAAP local organizing committee, on behalf of the Indonesian AIDS Society awarded SBY the highest prize for his commitment and leadership in responding to the epidemic in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, AIDS Ambassador and Champion for Asia-Pacifc, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, said that despite substantial progress made by several countries in Asia and the Pacifc in reaching some Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), many countries in the region still lagged behind, especially in responding to HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases and also “in recognizing the link between HIV and all the MDGs”.
UNAIDS Regional Director for Asia-Pacifc JVR Prasada Rao disclosed that the Asia-Pacifc region has a cumulative estimated fve million infected people, with around one million of them needing antiretroviral treatment. However, he said, it showed progress in terms of treatment in the past two years.
According to Rao, in at least 10 countries, HIV cases are still below the educative coverage and therefore hamper the international movement to offer better prevention, treatment and care, which is known as Universal Access targets.
As reported by the 9th ICAAP Post
The complete 9th ICAAP Post can be downloaded from the Virtual Media Centre section in this website
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- The Theme of the 9th ICAAP is "Empowering People, Strengthening Networks"
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