New York — President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will on Wednesday address the United Nations' High-level Summit on AIDS at the UN headquarters in New York.
This occasion which brings heads of states and high-level representatives from government and non-governmental organisations will be the President's first official visit outside the country since he was sworn in last Sunday as the democratically elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and will also be his third official visit to the United States between April, 2010 and June 2011.
Apart from his participation at the High-level meeting on HIV/AIDS scheduled to hold between June 8-10 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan who will arrive New York today (Monday), will also attend the United Nations Security Council debate on impact of HIV/AIDS on international peace and security on Tuesday June 7, 2011.
Also, the Nigerian President will be briefing the UN Correspondents at the Dag Hammarksjold Auditorium at the UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday June 8 2011 at 11:30am local time.
This year's UN summit on AIDS which will also involve the scientific community, civil society and the private sector is going to be a unique opportunity to review and renew global commitments for the AIDS response.
Speaking on the importance of President Jonathan's presence at the Summit, UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe said that the meeting would be a milestone in the global AIDS response, stressing that the Nigerian President's voice and engagement in the meeting would be critical to move the AIDS agenda forward since Nigeria was heavily affected by the epidemic.
Our correspondent learnt that the decision of the president to personally honour the invitation extended to him by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, was due to a recent report of the world body which disclosed that Nigeria had the second largest population of people living with HIV after South Africa.
This report which estimated HIV prevalence among adults in Nigeria as 3.6 per cent, with wide variations across the country also stated that in recent years, Nigeria has made progress in its efforts to expand access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, adding that coverage of antiretroviral treatment in Nigeria reached 21 per cent in 2009, up from one per cent coverage in 2004.
Meanwhile, the UN has disclosed in its new reports released at the weekend that the global response to AIDS has achieved significant results since the first case was reported 30 years ago, with a record number of people having access to treatment and rates of new HIV infections falling by nearly 25 per cent.
According to the report, the rate of new HIV infections fell by more than 50 per cent in India and by more than 35 per cent in South Africa. Both countries have the largest number of people living with HIV on their continents.
The report, however, noted that significant challenges remained. The latest estimates from UNAIDS shows that 34 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2010 and nearly 30 million have died from AIDS-related causes over the past 30 years.
Meanwhile, President Barrack Obama of the United States will be meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on the latest regional and global developments in the White House on Wednesday.