MESSAGE FROM THE JOINT UNITED NATIONS PROGRAMME ON HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) ON
THE OCCASION OF WORLD AIDS DAY,
1 DECEMBER 2001
This year marked 20
years since the world first became aware of AIDS. This year, the epidemic
continued its unrelenting spread as five million people became infected with
HIV. This year, too, the UN General Assembly held an unprecedented special
session on HIV/AIDS. The outcome: a Declaration of Commitment that set targets
and goals for the world.
And this year, the
World AIDS Campaign – which culminates on World AIDS Day – focused again on
men in order to highlight both their vulnerability to infection and their
responsibilities in prevention and care.
This year we have
reached a crossroads. In a charged and changed world, our test is whether we can
begin to decisively roll back the epidemic, building on two decades of hard
work. We are being challenged not only to sustain our efforts but also to push
beyond them. We now know that HIV/AIDS is more than just a health issue. It is
indeed more than a development issue, encompassing, as it does, human security
in its broadest sense – the fundamental need for people everywhere to live a
safe, healthy and productive life.
The Declaration of
Commitment unanimously adopted by the nations of the world has made clear that
halting the spread of the epidemic and caring for those already living with HIV
go hand in hand, and that human rights and an end to discrimination are central
to effective responses to HIV/AIDS. The Declaration calls for governments,
business and communities - in particular people living with HIV/AIDS - to join
together at every level in a common fight. By reaching across society’s
traditional boundaries and working together, we are showing we have the courage
to care and to change.
Reversing the spread
of HIV/AIDS depends on increasing access to comprehensive AIDS strategies. There
is broad consensus that prevention, care support and treatment are mutually
reinforcing. What is needed is sustained implementation of effective responses
to the epidemic. HIV prevention must become a mainstream concern, permeating the
fabric of social life. Barriers to accessing the information and means of
protecting against HIV must be overcome, as a matter of human rights.
The success of the
response to HIV/AIDS will hinge on the strength of the alliances we build
collectively. When the United Nations five years ago linked the work of its own
institutions into the joint UNAIDS programme it was a signal of a commitment to
partnership on AIDS. That family has grown: the International Labour
Organization (ILO) joined UNAIDS as its eighth Cosponsor this year.
Two paths lead from
our crossroads: down one we continue business as usual and the epidemic will
continue to outpace us, with untold misery around the globe as the result. The
other path is the path of hope: seizing the current opportunity with agreed
global goals against AIDS and new commitment to find the necessary resources.
In the end, we will
beat this epidemic. We will do it together – the United Nations, its Member
States, the groups that strive to prevent the spread of HIV and those that fight
for medicines and for an end to discrimination, the communities and individuals
that continue to show, day in and day out, that they, like our Campaign
proclaims, do care.
United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Nations International Drug
Control Programme (UNDCP)
Labour Office (ILO)
United Nations Educational, Scientific
Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Gro Harlem Brundtland
Health Organization (WHO)
The World Bank