Cypriot FM addresses UN General Assembly session on AIDS
by Apostolis Zoupaniotis
United Nations, Sep 23 (CNA) -- Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Georgios Iacovou reiterated the government's determination to preserve an active interest on a national and international level in the efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Addressing the one-day high-level meeting to evaluate the AIDS combating programme at UN headquarters, Iacovou noted that variables such as poverty and increasing inequalities in wealth distribution, socio-economic underdevelopment, gender inequality, illiteracy, restricted access to information, and armed conflict inhibit efforts to arrest the spread of HIV.
Iacovou welcomed the achievements of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS as well as the work of other agencies within the United Nations System underlying that ''their efforts, in combination with the considerable growth in HIV-related expenditure, signify the immensely significant role of the United Nations in fighting the pandemic.''
Briefing on situation of HIV/AIDS in Cyprus, Iacovou said that since the diagnosis of its first AIDS case in 1986, ''Cyprus has considered the issue to be among its highest priorities, which is one of the main reasons it remains a very low prevalence country with 0,1% of the population infected.''
All initiatives, he added, have been conducted in close co-operation with the World Health Organisation.
''We have proceeded to establish the National AIDS Committee of Cyprus, which comprises all competent governmental authorities and departments in Cyprus, as well as private institutions and NGOs, and set up a specialised agency responsible for policy in this field,'' Iacovou said.
He explained that the agency?s primary function is to offer patients living with HIV and AIDS (at no cost to them) the most advanced combination of medical treatments and the necessary social support to sustain their quality of life.
Iavovou also referred to the new Strategic Plan Cyprus is currently drafting ''which will incorporate all new developments regarding HIV, and will stress multilevel interventions and intersectoral collaboration''.
''I wish to reiterate, on behalf of my government, our determination to preserve an active interest on a national and international level in order to maximize the efficacy of our actions. We should not permit the failure of this impressive initiative by the UN Secretary General to collectively mobilise the resources of the International Community in order to restrict the pervasiveness and impact of this ruthless pandemic,'' the Cyprus FM concluded.