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    Press Release No:  UNIS/GA/1634
    Release Date:     16 May 2000
    General Committee Recommends Agenda Item on HIV/AIDS

     NEW YORK, 15 May (UN Headquarters) -- The inclusion of a General Assembly agenda item on HIV/AIDS was recommended this afternoon by the Assembly’s General Committee.

     In a letter to the Secretary-General (document A/54/238), four countries -- Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Zimbabwe -- requested that the United Nations elaborate a comprehensive agenda for action against HIV/AIDS and to convene a General Assembly special session to review the problem, as well as to propose new strategies and practical activities to strengthen international cooperation in addressing the epidemic.  A draft resolution annexed to their request would have the Assembly convene the special session on HIV/AIDS in May 2001 and would ask the Secretary-General to make the necessary administrative arrangements.

     In introducing the request, Volodymyr Yel’chenko (Ukraine) said  HIV/AIDS was an epidemic of global proportions with enormous human and social ramifications that went far beyond the province of health alone. It constituted a global emergency, inasmuch as it threatened stability, exacerbated inequalities and undermined sustainable development.  AIDS had become a disease of poverty, ignorance and gender discrimination, with the greatest affect on poor children and women.  Ninety-five per cent of all HIV-infected people lived in developing countries and many hard-won development gains had already been eroded, if not reversed.

     Facing the challenge required comprehensive, multi-sectoral responses that involved a broad range of actors, he continued.  Failure to meet it effectively would put at risk all other aspects of international development during the next decade.  He welcomed the decision by a number of leading pharmaceutical companies, following the appeal by the Secretary-General, to cut the price of AIDS drugs for States affected by the disease.  He also welcomed the recent move by the United States Government to make the procurement of cheaper anti-AIDS drugs and technology more accessible and affordable.  He expressed the hope that those steps would be followed by other governments and drug producers.  However, he added that such measures were only one of the factors in what should become a much broader and urgent effort.  He proposed that the Assembly hold a two- or three-day special session in May 2001.  

     The representative of Nigeria supported the request and asked to be added as a co-sponsor.

     The Assembly will meet to take action on the recommendation at a date and time to be announced.

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