Jakarta, 3 June 2009 - Bali will host the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) – the biggest congress on HIV and AIDS in the region from 9 - 13 August 2009. Approximately 3,000 delegates from 51 Asian and 14 Pacific countries are expected to attend this congress. The theme of the 9th ICAAP is “Empowering People, Strengthening Networks” to support a vibrant community of empowered people, all across Asia and the Pacific, to mobilize a holistic and more effective response to the cross-border challenges of today’s HIV pandemic.
The Local Organizing Committee Chair, Prof. Dr. Zubairi Djoerban, Sp.PD-KHOM, who is also the Chair of the Indonesian AIDS Society (Masyarakat Peduli AIDS Indonesia), said “we recognise that ICAAP is the second largest AIDS forum in the world and are grateful for the confidence in Indonesia to host this important meeting. We are inspired by the decision and will work hard to assure that the congress activities will advance regional efforts to respond effectively to the challenge of HIV and AIDS today and in the future.”
Mr. JVR Prasada Rao, Director, Regional Support Team, Asia and the Pacific, Joint United Nations Program on AIDS (UNAIDS), added, “the 9th ICAAP promises to be an even better and bigger conference than previous ICAAPs. There will be evidence-based discussion on whether Universal Access can be an achievable goal by 2010 for many countries in Asia and the Pacific. Every facet of the epidemic and the region’s responses are featured in the wide array of session and activities.”
The congress will take place at the Bali International Convention Centre (BICC) in Nusa Dua, and is scheduled to be officially opened on 9 August by the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in a ceremony at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural Park.
ICAAP is a biennial gathering for the release and discussion of scientific, programmatic and policy developments in the global response to HIV/AIDS and is convened by AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific (ASAP). In his message to the 9th ICAAP, Professor Myung-Hwan Cho, President of ASAP said that “Indonesia has been given the opportunity to take bold and innovative steps n support of the regional response to HIV and AIDS. Countries of Asia and other regions will be waiting to see Indonesia take the lead.”
According to the Independent Commission on AIDS in Asia (2008), AIDS remains the most likely cause of death and loss of work days among people aged 15 to 44. The number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Asia in 2007 is an estimated 5 million, with a number of new infections (380,000) comparatively speaking equal to the number of people who died from AIDS-related illnesses (380,000). In Oceania an estimated 740,000 people were living with HIV in 2007 of which 13,000 were new infections.
Reaching the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) on HIV and AIDS requires all member countries to halt and reverse the spread of the epidemic by 2015; this includes the Universal Access target of 2010 whereby all those who need treatment should also receive it, and the urgency to strengthen each country’s health system to ensure effective delivery of services and response.
Mr Rao continued, “what is really impressive is that the conference will showcase the immense progress made by community groups, working together and in partnership with government and other partners, in spearheading the response in many countries in the Asia Pacific region.”
Similar to previous ICAAPs, sessions will be divided into Plenary Sessions where distinguished researchers, community leaders and policy specialists share the latest information and experiences; 24 symposia on topics such as addressing legal barriers and criminalization of at-risk populations, and a leadership session for delegates from the Pacific region; 64 oral sessions on topics related to prevention, care support and treatment of HIV and AIDS, understanding socio-cultural, economic and political determinants in the AIDS response, and on leadership.
Besides these, 32 skills-building workshops will also be held to help delegates improve various skills that can apply to their daily work; Satellite Meetings and Exhibitions showcase the efforts of civil society and the private sector in the response to HIV and AIDS.
Distinguished guest speakers will include Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS Executive Director; Michel Kazatchkine, Director of the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM); Kyung-Wha Kang, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights; Dr Nafiz Sadik, Special Envoy for AIDS in Asia and the Pacific; Myung Hwan Cho, President of AIDS Society of Asia and Pacific (ASAP) and representatives from Seven Sisters, Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV (APN+), Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW), CARAM Asia, Asian Harm Reduction Network (AHRN), APCASO, APN Rainbow.
A Community Forum will also take place before the congress on 7–8 August , where various communities each have their own conference to identify and share common issues and experiences. Seven communities will be represented including people living with HIV (PLHIV); Injecting Drug Users (IDU); Interfaith; Men who have sex with Men (MSM) and Transgender; Sex Workers; Women, including Lesbians; and Youth.
The Asia-Pacific Village will be a friendly, fun and colourful venue to celebrate the region’s diversity, with arts and music performances, small group discussions, informal education activities, and regional stalls selling handicrafts and snacks made by people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. The Asia-Pacific Village will be open to the general public.
Prior to the official opening ceremony on 9 August, a high-level meeting of AIDS Ambassadors will be held, co-hosted by the First Lady and National AIDS Ambassador, Mrs. Ani Bambang Yudhoyono, and AIDS Ambassador of Australia, Murray Proctor. The AIDS Ambassador’s Meeting will address the role of AIDS Ambassadors in the region in mobilizing greater action and accountability for the response.
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