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U.N. delegates reach agreement on declaration of commitment on AIDS

By Ronni Berke
CNN's United Nations Producer

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- After weeks of tense, closed negotiations, delegates reached agreement Tuesday on a final declaration of commitment to be adopted by the United Nations General Assembly during the Special Session on HIV/AIDS.

General Assembly President Harri Holkeri submitted the draft declaration to the 189 member states, with the aim of adopting it when the Special Session ends Wednesday.

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"The President is very pleased that agreement has been reached on a text that is strong and progressive and that offers significant targets and strategies for combating HIV/AIDS," General Assembly spokeswoman Sue Markham said in a statement.

Muslim nations in particular had objected to language in the draft that addressed homosexuals, sex workers, and intravenous drug users in the category of those most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. The final version refers not to the individuals, but to "risky and unsafe sexual behavior" that increases vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.

A reference to guidelines aimed to prevent discrimination against those who are HIV-positive was also deleted from the final text, a U.N. official said. The guidelines call for recognition of same-sex marriage, the decriminalization of prostitution and the need to provide clean hypodermic needles for intravenous drug users.






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