Speech given by Michel Kazatchkine on the opening day of the 4th Conference on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

14 May 2014

As we open this conference, I would like to salute the physicians, scientists, healthcare and social workers, representatives of civil society and of the community who tirelessly work in the region to fight AIDS, TB and MDR-TB. A number of them are here today; others have decided not to come. Everywhere I travel in the region, I meet extraordinary, dedicated people working in hugely challenging contexts.

Despite the many challenges that we face, I have always had strong confidence in what the people of this region can achieve by focusing together on our shared goal of ending these epidemics.

Since I attended the first of these conferences in 2006, the numbers of new HIV infections, new AIDS cases and AIDS-related deaths have continued to increase in this region. Of the 130,000 new infections reported in the WHO European region in 2012, three-quarters occurred in countries in the East. While reported AIDS cases declined by 54 percent in Western Europe, the number of people newly diagnosed with AIDS increased by 113 percent in the East between 2006 and 2012. [According to UNAIDS and WHO, the numbers of estimated deaths were 91,000 in Eastern Europe and central Asia compared to 7,600 in Western and central Europe in 2012].

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These figures are in sharp contrast with the decreasing numbers of new infections and AIDS-related deaths in other regions and globally. Coverage of antiretroviral treatment in this region also remains well below the global level of 60 percent.

The epidemic pattern is also evolving, with heterosexual infections now representing a significant proportion of newly diagnosed cases in addition to the "concentrated" epidemics, particularly among people who inject drugs and gay men that continue to expand, undefeated, and inadequately addressed.

Read the whole speech here

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