Sydney - The 3rd Ministerial meeting on HIV/AIDS was held on the 23rd July, at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, to coincide with the International AIDS Summit that has attracted over 7,000 delegates from around the world.
A late replacement for Ms Margaret Jackson, AC 'Chair of Asia Pacific Business Coalition on AIDS' was Saatchi & Saatchi Australia, CEO, Simone Bartley who co-chaired alongside Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Alexander Downer. Simone is currently a board member for the Asia Pacific Business Coalition HIV/AIDS.
Over 500 delegates attended the meeting from all over Asia Pacific, so the discussion about the commitment by business and government to work together to halt, and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region by the year 2015, was only one of the key notes. Downer finally pledged an additional AU$400 million to the cause.
With such major global topics on the agenda, Simone Bartley commented of the day: "HIV/AIDS is creating an economical loss of currently AU$10 billion pa. An independent report states that could triple in the next 5 years to AU$29 billion. Business needs to be involved as the epidemic effects workers in their most productive years. Loss of experienced, skilled workers means at the very least an increased cost in replacement and training of new staff. What needs to be balanced with the economic impact is the very real social impact.
"It's heartening to see how the business community across Asia is engaging in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The most inspiring example comes from the Business Coalition in Bangkok which has been successful in not only halting the disease, but in fact reversing the spread. They give us the confidence that it is possible to win this very important fight."