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Minister Jan O’Sullivan marks World Aids Day

The Minister of State for Trade and Development, Jan O’Sullivan T.D., speaking in advance of World Aids Day tomorrow, highlighted the importance the Government attaches to the focus on HIV and AIDS in Ireland's overseas aid programme.  The impact of the policy on HIV and AIDS will feature as an integral part of the White Paper review on Irish Aid. Minister O’Sullivan said:

“Ireland has been a global leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS. A revised HIV and AIDS Policy will reflect Ireland’s ongoing commitment to curb the global pandemic and make treatment for those living with the virus more accessible.”

It is now 10 years since the first Irish Aid HIV and Aids policy was launched and during that time Ireland has been a key player in the global fight against the virus."

For example through assistance from the Irish Aid programme in Mozambique more than 260,000 people living with HIV now receive treatment, up from fewer than 2,000 people at the end of 2002.In Lesotho, Irish Aid in partnership with the Clinton Foundation has helped to expand national coverage of voluntary counselling and testing of the population from 8.5% annually in 2007 to 63% in 2011."

Minister O’Sullivan, who is attending the Forth High Level Forum on aid effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, said the recent positive findings in the UNAIDS World Aids Day Report 2011 were a source of encouragement for the development of an updated HIV and AIDS policy.  She said:  

“I have been very heartened by the recent report by UNAIDS, which said the number of HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen in the last decade and the number of people on treatment has risen to nearly 50% of those of who are estimated to require it. With the review of the White Paper now underway, we have a real opportunity to take account of the changing nature of our global environment.”

On Tuesday Minister O’Sullivan completed her first visit to Vietnam, one of Ireland’s nine partner countries. There she visited the Vietnam Blood Borne Virus Initiative (IVVI) in Hanoi, which was established with funding from Irish Aid. IVVI, in collaboration with University College Dublin and Atlantic Philanthropies, has strengthened treatment in Vietnam for blood-borne viruses including HIV.

Tomorrow, in Busan, Minister O'Sullivan will hold a meeting with representatives of the priority countries in Africa for Ireland's aid programme, to consult with them as part of the White Paper review process.