This year’s theme of the World AIDS Day - “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation” - resonates well with the current progress of ASEAN towards an ASEAN Community by 2015 with one vision and one identity.
An ASEAN Community in a stable political and secure environment amidst a robust economy and progressive socio-cultural development can only be sustainable if the current and future generations are assured of a healthy and disease-free community. Such a community includes an AIDS-free generation. More specifically, a community that is free from the impacts brought about by HIV and AIDS.
In commemorating the World AIDS Day this year, the ASEAN Community also marks the second year of moving towards the targets of the ASEAN Declaration of Commitment: Getting to Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination, Zero AIDS-Related Deaths. This was adopted by the ASEAN Leaders at the 19th ASEAN Summit in November 2011 with specific targets outlined for 2015. The implementation of this Declaration commenced through the ASEAN Cities Getting to Zero Initiative in 13 cities/areas within the ASEAN region. Progress has already been made in the localization of this Declaration in these cities/areas in ASEAN.
Proactive, dynamic and harmonized actions are constantly called upon from ASEAN Member States in pursuing the targets committed by their respective ASEAN Leaders through this Declaration. ASEAN, through the ASEAN Task Force on AIDS (ATFOA), has progressively worked towards the sharing of responsibilities in getting to three zeros in the ASEAN communities. The shared responsibilities in strengthening the achievement of targeted results include, among others, the need to invest more in developing innovations in preventing the spread of HIV; and to advocate for a committed stance in implementing innovative and evidence-based research programmes and policies to combat HIV and AIDS.
ASEAN needs strong political will, adequate financial resources and effective evidence-based approaches and support from partners in order to achieve these three zeros. I urge all concerned to continue to work on the ASEAN Declaration of Commitment in getting to zeros and build on political commitments, investments, energy, activism and determinations that have brought us to this turning point.