World Aids Day: UNFPA seeks more inclusive societies

Rafat Salami

The UNFPA says the world would get over the HIV crisis only when we promote inclusiveness regardless of status.

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in a statement to commemorate world Aids Day said treatment alone will not end the HIV epidemic.

Dr Osotimehin said though “antiretroviral treatment has reached more than 18 million people in 2016 and has saved millions of lives and reduced the risk of new infections”, warning that treatment alone cannot stop the spread of HIV.

We know what to do, and we know how to do it better: governments, communities and international partners must scale up investments in behavioural, medical and policy interventions, which together can dramatically bolster prevention,” he said.

He said progress on prevention has stagnated as every day “almost 6,000 people are infected with HIV.”

Access to quality, rights-based sexual and reproductive health information and services, including condoms, is critical. He said more actions to are needed to reduce risk among vulnerable populations, such as adolescent girls.

According to Dr Osotimehin “a girl who is protected from child marriage, has access to comprehensive sexuality education and is empowered to finish her education is at less risk of HIV infection.”

Also, in his World Aids Day message, the UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon said only “tolerance and awareness helps stop AIDS”.

Ban Ki-moon was speaking at a special event in UN Headquarters to mark the day, which takes place every December 1.

The event entitled Moving Forward Together: Leaving No-one Behind, was organized by the UN’s programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS.

He noted that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to leave no-one behind, adding that “the UN was committed to end HIV infections, discrimination, and AIDS-related deaths, within the next 14 years.”

The UN chief, who leaves his post at the end of December promised to “stand with all of you, until we achieve an AIDS-free world”.

Receiving a special Leadership Award, the UN chief called for action “to get on the fast track” to end AIDS, and said that despite criticism of his stand “by many around the world” he believed in equal human rights for all.