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Unite for Children, Unite for AIDS: Azerbaijan artists call for action

© UNICEF Azerbaijan/Ibrahimova/2005
UNICEF Representative Hanaa Singer delivers an opening speech at the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS Concert in Baku

BAKU, 8 December 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.

 “In the CEE/CIS - 1,100 children under 15 died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2004, more than 8,000 children are HIV-positive with a further 1,800 new infections annually… Let’s use this campaign to demonstrate how by working together in a coherent and universal manner we can make a significant difference for children affected by HIV/AIDS,” said in her opening speech UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan Hanaa Singer.

“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 donor community; it was also broadcasted live by a local Lider TV channel both in country and to other countries through satellite attracting possibly millions of viewers, including 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 risk behaviors and they should also remember to protect themselves,” said in his speech the Minister of Youth, Sports and Tourism, Abulfaz Garayev.

As part of the campaign activities thousands of leaflets were distributed by youth volunteers at the city’s buses, as well as by the national airlines 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. We focus on prevention because knowledge about HIV/AIDS and its prevention is weak. Only one third of 10-18-year olds know about HIV/AIDS and slightly more than the two thirds of young people aged 19-24 years 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 key 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 behavioral and social trends indicate a very high probability for further growth of the HIV epidemic in the country. Its evolvement could be explosive  - especially so, as an estimated 2 million Azeri men have left the countryside to work in Russia and in the Ukraine, where the virus is on the rise.

For further information please contact:
Ayna Mollazade, Communication Officer

Tel:  99412 492 3013
Fax: 99412 492 2468



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