BANGKOK, 22 November 2013 – In line with the ASEAN Declaration of Commitment: Getting to Zero New HIV Infection, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths, the ASEAN Task Force on AIDS (ATFOA) conducted a satellite symposium on November 20 at the 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and Pacific (ICAAP) which highlighted the ASEAN Cities Getting to Zeros Initiative.

H.E. Dr. Agung Laksono, Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare of the Republic of Indonesia and Mr. Steve Kraus, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team-Asia Pacific opened the symposium which was supported by the ASEAN Secretariat through the Health Division and UNAIDS.

Dr. Laksono highlighted the importance of implementing the commitment made by the ASEAN Leaders in the 19th ASEAN Summit last November 2011 when they adopted the Declaration. The ASEAN Cities Getting to Zeros Initiative is the project currently being implemented for the operationalization of this Declaration. Mr. Steve Kraus noted that progress is being made in achieving the targets set in getting to the three zeros and that ASEAN has a critical role in advocating for progress in these targets.

The satellite symposium provided an opportunity to share the progress of the 13 areas/cities among the ASEAN Member States in localizing the HIV and AIDS goals of getting to three zeros.

Dr. Kamal Siregar, Secretary of the National AIDS Commission of Indonesia, presented the background and overview of the Initiative and the ways forward in the plan of action amongst the 13 ASEAN cities/areas. ATFOA Indonesia is the lead country for this initiative in ASEAN.

The sample cities of Quezon City in the Philippines, Can Tho and Danang Cities in Viet Nam, and the Historical City of Melaka, Malaysia were highlighted respectively in the symposium by the presenters – Dr. Rolando Cruz (Philippines), Deputy Director General Professor Bui Duc Duong (Viet Nam), and the Honoroble Mayor of Melaka, Datuk Zainal Abu.

The second part of the symposium highlighted the initial launching of the e-copy of Volume One of the Compilation of Good Practices and Initiatives on HIV and AIDS Response among ASEAN Member States. This initiative was supported by the International HIV Alliance and led by ATFOA Malaysia. The e-publication presents the documented good practices and initiatives in ASEAN as a response to the targets of getting to the three zeros. The launching was led by the Mayor of Melaka.

The two-part symposium was facilitated by Director Larry Maramis and Dr. Ferdinal Fernando of ASEAN Secretariat, Dr. Bounpheng Philavong (Lao PDR, ATFOA Chair), and Dr. Sha’ari Bin Ngadiman (Malaysia, ATFOA Vice Chair).ASEAN also organized an exhibition booth at the congress.