Message from ASAP

It is with great pleasure and anticipation that I join with my colleagues in Japan in welcoming you to the Seventh InternationalCongress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific. Since the first small meeting in Canberra in 1990 the biennial Congresses have become the most significant meeting point on HIV/AIDS for our region, and play an increasingly important role in promoting solidarity and a common purpose in the struggle against HIV/AIDS. The Asia/Pacific region is immense, covering as it does half the world's population and some fifty countries with a vast range of social, political, economic and religious systems. AIDS has already become a major presence in some parts of our region, and in the next decade it threatens to escalate to an alarming extent. Coming together at ICAAP is one small but tangible way in which we can help contribute to policies which will both slow the spread of the epidemic and mitigate the impact on those already infected.
The AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific is proud to be a co-sponsor of ICAAP, and we are conscious of the many groups and institutions for whom ICAAP is a significant event. Through the Congresses we promote an exchange of ideas, knowledge and experience which bring together People Living with HIV/AIDS, scientific researchers, community activists, health professionals, governments and international agencies, united in their search for more effective strategies and increased political commitment.
Since we last met in October 2001 in Melbourne several of our colleagues have died from AIDS, including Suzana Murni who spoke at the opening ceremony of 6th ICAAP, despite a severe illness. Our working together for the success of 7th ICAAP is one way of remembering people like Suzana, Ashok and others who have died from this epidemic.

Dennis Altman
President, AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific

Message from UNAIDS

The HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific is threatening and diverse. There are some countries where the epidemic has already spread widely, others where it is still in its earliest stages. What is clear is that throughout Asia and the Pacific, AIDS is a reality, which needs decisive action in response. While some governments have successfully developed and delivered effective AIDS programs, in others the process is only just beginning.
There is no 'one size fits all' in Asia and the Pacific - economies, cultures and religions vary widely. Despite this diversity, we know there are some fundamentals of any effective effort against the epidemic: prevention and care need to work together; wide social responses accompanied by political leadership are absolutely necessary; denial, stigma and discrimination must be confronted; and people living with HIV and the most vulnerable people must be encouraged to be a central part of the response.
The 7th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific is a great opportunity for non-governmental organizations, scientists and policy makers in this region to share their knowledge and experience and turn it into large-scale action. There is already agreement on the need for comprehensive action on AIDS - all the governments of the region have agreed to the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS adopted by the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2001. It includes specific policy goals which were to be met by 2003 and targets for reducing HIV among young people and infants by 2005. National budgets, legal systems, government and international institutions in all sectors, and business and community groups all have an obligation to deliver on these commitments.
I hope that the Congress represents an opportunity to renew our resolve, to broaden our understanding of the multifaceted scope of HIV and its impacts, and to embrace a common purpose in meeting these challenges.

Peter Piot
Executive Director,
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
and Under Secretary-General of the
United Nations