WHO and HIV-positive activists step up their joint efforts in the war on AIDS

News release

Dr Shigeru Omi, the World Health Organization's Regional Director for the Western Pacific, pledged today that WHO will step up its fight against AIDS with the help of people infected with the virus. ""People living with HIV/AIDS are key players in the war on the disease, ""Dr Omi said at the opening of a meeting in Manila of AIDS specialists from around the region. ""We are intensifying our joint efforts starting today.""

Among representatives attending the meeting, in WHO's regional headquarters in Manila, were three people living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs). Congratulating them on their work, Dr Omi told them: ""You have an absolutely critical role to play in ensuring that the successful care and treatment projects that have already taken place in the Western Pacific region are built upon and used as models."" PHAs in a number of Asian countries are providing peer support for others with HIV/AIDS and are involved in the planning and monitoring of care and treatment services, as well as in liaison with health authorities.

Dr Omi described HIV/AIDS as ""the greatest health crisis facing the world today."" In the worst affected areas, he said, the impact of the disease was undermining the economic, social and political gains of the past half-century and crushing hopes of a better future.

""The HIV/AIDS situation in the Western Pacific is not as bad as in some other regions,"" Dr Omi said, ""but if we don't do anything now, there is the potential for the situation to become as serious.""

For more information, please call Mr Peter Cordingley, Public Information Officer, at (632) 528 9991 to 93 or email: PIO_Unit@wpro.who.int

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