Articles & Expert Views
Opening of the Fifth International Eastern Europe and Central Asia AIDS Conference
Moscow, March 23, 2016 – Today the Fifth International Eastern Europe and Central Asia AIDS Conference (EECAAC-2016) organized jointly by Rospotrebnadzor and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) began its work. EECAAC-2016 is the region's largest event on the topic of HIV prevention and treatment. The conference brought together nearly 2500 delegates from 79 countries. Among them – world's leading scientists, activists, politicians and civil society leaders.
At the Opening ceremony of the conference, Deputy Chairman of the government of the Russian Federation Olga Golodets noted:
"Today we have all the resources and capabilities to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce the mortality rates from this disease. Since 1987 more than 1 million HIV-positive people have been registered in Russia, 212 000 of them died. Our region and the world community faces global challenges. We appreciate and welcome cooperation with international organizations, in particular with UNAIDS because they have been developing concrete steps in response to the HIV epidemic. First of all I would like to draw attention to the formation of an effective information policy which should be aimed at target groups. The next item on the agenda is the reduction of treatment costs. High costs limit access to treatment for a large number of those who are in need. Treatment coverage figures today are not as impressive as we would like them to be, that’s why every step taken to increase access will bring us closer to the end of the epidemic. I am confident that together we can develop new approaches to protect the world from such a serious problem as HIV/AIDS."
Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, made a welcoming speech on behalf of the United Nations:
"In line with the Sustainable Development Goals and leaving no one behind, we should have the courage to explore all progressive policy options in eastern Europe and central Asia. An urgent response is needed to break the trajectory of new HIV infections in the region and to get on the Fast-Track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030."
Head of the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, Chief Sanitary Officer of the Russian Federation and the Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee Anna Popova stressed the importance of the Conference for the region:
"At the fourth conference in 2014, we decided not to stop, not to pause our work between the conferences. These two years we have been conducting meetings of the organizing committee, holding symposia with active involvement of leading scientists and experts. EECAAC-2016 is the largest conference so far – 2467 delegates from 79 countries have been registered, more than 340 speakers participate in the sessions. This year we had a record number of scholarships – 525. Conference program includes the most important issues that will improve decision-making efficiency and help make a breakthrough in the fight against the epidemic in the region. Participation of the scientific community, religious organizations and civil society that is doing a substantial amount of work in the field of HIV response is extremely important for us. Our forum will summarize the previous period and identify strategic objectives for the future. I hope that the Fifth Conference will continue the tradition of being a platform for consolidating efforts aimed at the development of effective strategies that will increase the coverage of treatment and prevention"
The Opening ceremony also featured welcome statements made by the Russian Federation Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova, Director of the Federal Service for Drug Control, Chairman of the State Anti-Narcotics Committee, Viktor Ivanov, Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria, and Neglected Tropical Diseases at WHO Ren Minghui, Deputy Minister of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation Gennady Gatilov, Head of the Federal Agency for youth affairs Sergey Pospelov, Chairman of the Russian Committee of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly on social policy Valery Ryazansky, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on health protection Sergey Furgal, the Bishop for Alapaevsk and Kamensk Methodius, General Director of JSC "National Immunobiological Company" Nikolay Semenov, the President of JSC "Pharmasyntez" Vikram Punia, civil society representatives Jana Panfilova and Andrey Zlobin, founder of the "Africa Rising" Foundation, South African politician Ndaba Mandela.
The conference will continue for three days and include more than 60 concurrent sessions, seminars and round tables with presentations made by 350 experts. Among the key topics of the forum: HIV prevention and treatment, migration and the problem of HIV spread, universal access to treatment, stigma and discrimination of HIV-positive people, women and HIV, adolescents and HIV, HIV and drug addiction, treatment of HIV and tuberculosis co-infection and many others.
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