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Bi-annual premier AIDS gathering to focus on Rights for all

NEWS RELEASE
XVIII International AIDS Conference

KUALA LUMPUR, 8 July 2010 – The world’s premier gathering of professionals working in the field of HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment, people living with HIV, and health policy-makers is set to take place in Vienna, Austria between 18 and 23 July with the theme “Rights Here, Right Now”, bringing a human rights-based focus to the event.

According to the Conference Organisers, rights violations, stigma and discrimination whether focused directly on HIV-positive individuals, their family members; or on women, girls and young people as well as punitive or misguided policies towards key populations most affected by HIV are major obstacles to an effective response to the epidemic.

“Fear of stigma and discrimination prevents many people from seeking HIV testing, returning for their results, or securing treatment, with the risk of turning what could be a manageable chronic illness into a death sentence and perpetuating the spread of HIV,” said UNICEF Representative to Malaysia Hans Olsen. “As a result, children are denied their basic rights to survive and thrive, both as they get infected or, even more so are affected by the impact of HIV and AIDS on their caregivers’.

Universal access for all

“Rights Here, Right Now” reflects a growing commitment on the part of the international community to focus on the human rights issues underpinning the global AIDS crisis. The theme is based on the credo that universal access to prevention, care and treatment will never be achieved without attention to fundamental rights for all people, including the most vulnerable and marginalised.

Over 25,000 delegates are expected to attend the XVIII International AIDS Conference better known as AIDS 2010. They include Malaysia's Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) Director-General Dato' Haji Wan Mohamad bin Dato' Sheikh Abdul Aziz and Social Division Chief Assistant Director Zakuan bin Sawai. UNICEF is sponsoring their participation through the Malaysian AIDS Council.

“UNICEF works with religious leaders across the world to lessen the human impact of HIV. Religious leaders are uniquely placed to use the trust and authority they have in their communities to change the course of the epidemic,” said Mr. Olsen. “They have the power to end guilt, denial, stigma and discrimination and open the way to reconciliation and hope, knowledge and healing, prevention and care.”

Spotlighting child rights and AIDS

UNICEF’s Austrian National Committee will spearhead the organisation’s presence at the conference, ensuring that UNICEF’s programs safeguarding children and women from HIV and AIDS will be visible across Vienna.

In the weeks before, during and after the conference, two city streetcars will bear the slogan ‘Babies Free from HIV’. The Austrian National Committee will also highlight UNICEF’s new ‘Mother-Baby Pack’, an innovative kit containing a complete, pre-packaged set of drugs to prevent transmission of the virus from mothers to their children.

And UNICEF plans to be heard as well as seen. The Austrian National Committee will distribute some 3,000 horns to participants at a human rights march so that no one misses its message about the urgency of protecting all children from HIV and AIDS. Additionally, UNICEF will have a forum at the AIDS 2010 Global Village which is an interactive exhibit hall for civil society and local community organisations.

The conference is organised by the International AIDS Society, the world’s largest independent network of HIV professionals. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the World Health Organization and other UN bodies are among the international partners supporting the meeting. A delegation of about 50 UNICEF staff from across the world is also expected to attend.

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NOTE TO EDITORS

XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010)
AIDS 2010 is taking place at an important juncture in the response to HIV and AIDS. Over the past 15 years, scientific advances have given us the tools to effectively prevent and treat HIV in even the most resource constrained settings. Beginning with a call to action at the XIII International Conference in Durban, South Africa in 2000, and reinforced by advocacy in support of universal access over the past seven years, there has been tremendous progress in scaling up HIV treatment, and to a lesser extent HIV prevention, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. These investments have shown positive results, with fewer new infections and AIDS-related deaths reported in 2007, compared with 2003. Yet, with the goal of universal access by 2010 looming on the immediate horizon, and the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals following just five years later, there is a need for urgency and accountability and no room for complacency. AIDS 2010 will underscore that the protection of human rights is a fundamental prerequisite to an effective response to HIV. Equally clear to many, though not all, is the important contributions the scale up of HIV programs has made to broader health and development goals. AIDS 2010 will highlight the many opportunities for synergy and for powerful alliances between these sometimes disparate movements.
For more information: www.aids2010.org

For more information, please contact:

Indra Kumari Nadchatram
UNICEF Malaysia
Tel +6012 292 6872, inadchatram@unicef.org

Juana Jaafar
UNICEF Malaysia
Tel +6012 530 9693, jjmanap@unicef.org

 

 

 

 

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