During a meeting on May 23 in Geneva, the Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Dr Sadiq AbdulKarim Al Shehabi and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé pledged to strengthen cooperation between UNAIDS and the Ministry of Health.
Mr Sidibé commended the leadership of the Minister Al Shehabi in Bahrain in responding to the AIDS epidemic. He also asked Dr Al Shehabi to champion national and regional initiatives to prevent new HIV infections among children by 2015 and to accelerate scale up of HIV treatment in the Arab Region.
Dr Al Shehabi welcomed the partnership with UNAIDS and committed to putting HIV on the agenda of the Gulf Cooperation Council, currently chaired by the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The Arab Region has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world. Between 2001 and 2011, the estimated number of people living with HIV in Arab countries increased from 170 000 to 230 000. The numbers of AIDS-related deaths and new HIV infections have also increased significantly. Between 2001 and 2011, there was a 32% increase in AIDS-related deaths and since 2001, the number of people newly infected with HIV in Arab countries has increased by more than 47% - from 19 000 to 28 000. Recent studies suggest that concentrated epidemics are emerging among key populations at higher risk of HIV infection in many countries of the region.
We believe Bahrain will benefit from this intensified technical support from UNAIDS. We will also do our best to bring awareness of HIV issues in the Gulf Cooperating Council which we currently chair
- H.E. Minister of Health, Kingdom of Bahrain, Dr Sadiq AbdulKarim Al Shehabi
Arab Countries have a great opportunity to end the AIDS epidemic. HIV prevalence is still low, the resources are available and there is ample evidence to inform policy development and innovative programming
- UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé