Gov't Vows to Fight HIV/AIDS

Addis Ababa Nov. 11 (ENA) The Government of Ethiopia will not only fully back, but will stand in the vanguard of the battle against HIV/AIDS, a senior government official said.

In his closing remark at the first International Conference on AIDS yesterday, Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin said Ethiopia could not allow AIDS to destroy its young and its future.

"While fighting the disease we will, as dictated by our policy, respect the human rights of our brothers and sisters who live with AIDS," Seyoum said.

He said Ethiopia would do her best to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS should not be subjected to special restrictions such as employment, education, and access to public facilities and housing.

"There is no greater need for partnership and for solidarity than in the fight against AIDS and "Fighting for Life," he added.

Seyoum said he couldn't but express the deep sense of agony that officials in the government feel as they watch the march of this cruel disease, destroying the lives of the people and snatching away the beloved ones.

The role of prominent forces in the society is essential if Ethiopia was to mobilize the public in the war against AIDS, the foreign minister, who is also the patron of the conference, said.

Seyoum called on the international partners to come and work with the Government of Ethiopia in the fight against the pandemic, adding, "my government..will support your work."

More than 700 local and foreign researchers across the world including senior Ethiopian Government officials and HIV/positive persons had attended the conference that was held under the theme "Fighting for Life".

The involvement of AIDS orphans, those engaged in commercial sex, business and religious leaders and world-class scientists made the conference a unique forum for raising awareness.

The conference, the first of its kind to be held on the Ethiopian soil, had brought together the best minds around the world to help combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Bringing the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS on Ethiopia's all-round development endeavor to the attention of the international community was one of the aims of the conference.

Meanwhile, organizers of the international conference said they have plans to set up centres that help contain the spread of HIV/AIDS scourge in Ethiopia.

Eleni Gebre-Amlak and Dr. Seyoum Ayehuenie, told journalists here Tuesday that the centres would help collect data on HIV/AIDS. offer counseling services and conduct blood tests for the virus.

The centres would be established at various parts of the country, they said, adding the necessary support has already been secured from donors for the purpose.

Ethiopian scientists abroad and expatriate scholars working on HIV/AIDS had also expressed their readiness to assist the establishment of the centres, the organizers said.

The centres would work together with governmental and non-governmental organizations charged with the task of curbing the spread of the pandemic, they added.