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The National Assembly of the Lao PDR and the Lao Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (LAPPD) with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) hosted the first National Round Table Discussion on HIV/AIDs in Champassak on 29th October.

The discussion aimed to bring together the National Assembly, civil society organizations and development stakeholders to discuss and disseminate the HIV/AIDS Declaration adopted in the High Level Meeting held in New York in 2011. In the Declaration, UN Member States committed to a number of strategies to move towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

During the event, the Parliamentarians committed to join forces to achieve Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths in Lao PDR. As part of their advocacy efforts, this message was displayed in banners and t-shirts during the Boat Racing Festival in Pakse.

The event included a round table discussion between parliamentarians, members of the civil society and development partners, a presentation from the Center for HIV/AIDS and STIs (CHAS) from the Ministry of Health, the Lao Positive Health Association (LAOPHA) as well as from UNAIDS.

"As opinion-leaders and decision-makers, the parliamentarians have decided to ensure that government commitment to the New Political Declaration on HIV is honoured and will advocate for the Getting to Zero Strategy in Lao PDR and promote respect among their constituents for people living with HIV, encourage informed debate on issues related to HIV, based on scientific evidence and supportive cultural values - not popular myths, prejudicial beliefs or harmful cultural practices" said honourable Professor Doctor Phonethep Pholsena, President of the Social and Cultural Affairs Committee of the National Assembly.

Since 2010, in their capacity of lawmakers, Lao parliamentarians have engaged in designing an HIV law that protects human rights and advances effective HIV prevention, care and treatment programmes. Following the endorsement of the HIV law, as representatives of the people, the parliamentarians have visited a number of Provinces to reflect the voices and concerns of all people, including those living with or affected by HIV and members of key groups at higher risk, such as marginalized communities.

Parliamentarians have also represented the Country in a number of regional and global events, such as the Global Commission on HIV Consultation in Bangkok and the 2012 AIDS Conference in Washington which has been mutually beneficial for both the Country as well as the regional and global response.

The Round table discussion is the first activity to mark the World Aids Day 2012 celebrated every year on December 1st to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.

For further information please contact:
Mr. Diego De La Rosa. Advocacy and Communications Officer, United Nations Population Fund - UNFPA. 
Tel: (+856 21) 315547. Mobile: (+856) 020 7791053,