UN development agency starts new push to counter HIVAIDS in Arab region

The gathering of experts is being organized to pave the way for an expanded response to the epidemic in Arab countries, which have collectively reported increases in HIV/AIDS prevalence rates over the past two years.The UN estimates that 80,000 people in the region became newly infected last year, bringing the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS there to 440,000. “While the Arab States is generally regarded as a low-prevalence region, this is no reason for complacency,” said UNDP’s Zahir Jamal. “The region must ensure that an appropriate level of response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic is in place.” Although most countries in the region have national HIV/AIDS programmes, breaking the silence, mobilizing leadership and overcoming stigma and denial remain key issues, according to UNDP. The agency’s new push in the Arab States seeks to create heightened awareness and build commitment and leadership in the fight against the epidemic.