Azerbaijan: Artists call for action on UNICEF campaign 'Unite for children, united against AIDS'
Baku, December 7, 2005 –UNICEF in Azerbaijan has teamed up with the Azerbaijan Ministry of Youth, Sports and Tourism and a local NGO Initiative for the Sake of Development to celebrate World AIDS week and launch the UNICEF/UNAIDS Global campaign 'Unite for children, unite against AIDS'.
A number of well-known Azerbaijan artists came together in a UNICEF-supported concert 'Unite for children, unite against AIDS' given in order to draw attention to the impact of the global AIDS pandemic on children and to raise the profile of the issue in Azerbaijan on December 7, 2005 in the Heydar Aliyev Palace in Baku.
“It will not be possible to defeat HIV/AIDS without young people. We’re deeply committed to working with young people – not merely for them. And we are grateful to the Government of Azerbaijan for its support and work for and with the young people,” she added.
The concert was attended by 2,500 people, among which some high-profile public officials, media and the donor community; it was also broadcast live by a local Lider TV channel both in country and to other countries via satellite, possibly attracting millions of viewers, including the Azerbaijani community living abroad.
“In order to have a healthy generation tomorrow, young people in Azerbaijan today need to be well informed and aware about the dangers of risky behaviours and they should also remember to protect themselves,” said Abulfaz Garayev, Minister of Youth, Sports and Tourism.
As part of the campaign activities, thousands of leaflets were distributed by youth volunteers at the city’s bus stops and stations, as well as by the national airline, AZAL, to its passengers flying to the CEE/CIS countries. Large billboards with HIV/AIDS messages were also displayed at the Baku Heydar Aliyev airport.
In Azerbaijan UNICEF supports efforts to inform young people about the dangers of high-risk behavior, including HIV/AIDS, with a special focus on those most at risk, such as IDPs and refugees and other impoverished and marginalized groups. UNICEF’s focus is on prevention because knowledge about HIV/AIDS and its prevention is weak. Only one third of 10 to 18-year -olds know about HIV/AIDS and slightly more than the two-thirds of young people aged 19 to 24 believe that the disease can be prevented.
Only one third of 10 to 18-year -olds know about HIV/AIDS and slightly more than the two-thirds of young people aged 19 to 24 believe that the disease can be prevented.
Azerbaijan is currently facing a ‘concentrated’ HIV epidemic with a very low overall prevalence among the general population (0.008% out of 8,266,000 people) but a high prevalence among populations that are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection: 16.5% among injecting drug users (IDUs) and 8.5% among commercial sex workers.
The dramatic socio-economic changes of the past years have contributed to a growth in drug use, commercial sex work, and migration. Current data and behavioural and social trends indicate a very high probability of further growth of HIV in the country. Its evolution could potentially be explosive - as an estimated 2 million Azeri men have left the country to work in Russia and Ukraine, where the virus is on the rise.
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