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Statement by Mr. Michael Vít Deputy Minister of Health

High-level plenary meeting devoted to the follow-up to the outcome of the twenty-sixth special session: implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS(New York, 22 September 2003)

High-level plenary meeting devoted to the follow-up to the outcome of the twenty-sixth special session: implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS
(New York, 22 September 2003)

Mr President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Czech Republic fully associates itself with the statement delivered earlier by Italy on behalf of the European Union. Let me, however, add few words on the specific situation of my country, the Czech Republic.

I must admit that the Czech Republic is still a very fortunate country as far as the HIV/AIDS epidemic is concerned. By 31 July 2003, only 633 cases of HIV infection have been diagnosed to date among the 10.3 million of our citizens, reaching the cumulative HIV prevalence of 61.6 cases per million inhabitants. Until now, exactly one hundred patients out of 168 AIDS cases died in our country. Due to many different reasons, the Czech Republic belongs to the countries least affected by this epidemic scourge in both the European and the global perspective.

Our country highly appreciated the whole process in the United Nations leading to the adoption of the Declaration of Commitments during the United Nations Special Session of the General Assembly in June 2001. Czech Republic fully supported the UNAIDS effort to achieve effective leadership and coordination of the worldwide actions combating HIV/AIDS, agreed targets for the prevention of HIV/AIDS, mobilization of the necessary level of financial resources, and other important goals.

Having the targets set by the Declaration of Commitments, we have to fully concentrate on fulfilling these targets and on monitoring the progress in achieving them in the periods set by the Declaration itself.

Please allow me, Mr President, to quote some data from nine national indicators monitoring the progress of the National AIDS programme and HIV- related behaviours:

1. Our data suggest that teachers of 93% of grammar schools have been trained in life-skills-based education and taught the subject during the last school year.
We consider that all young people have rights to get the correct information how to protect themselves and adopt skills reducing their risky behaviours.

2. Nearly 100% of clients in regional STD facilities provide appropriate counselling, diagnosis and treatments for STDs, incl. HIV counselling and offer HIV testing on voluntary basis to all patients with STDs.

3. Just this year we are in the process of collecting up-dated information on behaviours among young adults (15-24 years of age) and injecting drug users, and we will analyse and interpret those data by the end of this year.

With regard to the overall impact of HIV is concerned, since 1985 we have diagnosed only three cases of the vertical transmission of HIV infection among 30 deliveries of HIV infected women (representing 10% of HIV prevalence among newborns), due to the universal antiretroviral prophylaxis. This prophylaxis is delivered free of charge to all pregnant women infected by HIV virus.

The Government of the Czech Republic, the Czech Ministry of Health and the Czech National AIDS Programme reconfirm here their sense of responsibility for containing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country and alleviating its overall impact on our society. I have just outlined some of the policies we have formulated and have been implementing towards this end.

I have the honour to express also the readiness of my country to continue these efforts, as well as to start new initiatives in combating the HIV epidemic initiated by the Declaration of Commitments. We are committed to strengthening the monitoring and evaluation of achievements and ready to adjust our actions flexibly in according to the results generated by the UNAIDS Country Response and Information System (CRIS).

Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, allow me to thank the United Nations for conducting this high level plenary meeting devoted the follow-up to the outcome of the twenty-sixth special session and implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. I particularly appreciate the interactive character of this event. I hope it will inspire and energize our further work in fighting this pandemic all over the world.

Thank you for your attention.