©C. Butler

Close the Gap – Start with Education

UNESCO’s slogan for World Aids Day 2014 is: “Close the Gap: Start with Education”, which echoes the UNAIDS campaign “Close the Gap”, calling for an end to the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

The education sector has a key role to play in closing the gap by preventing new infections among young people, supporting testing, treatment and care, and reducing stigma and discrimination within the school environment. In 2014 UNESCO has been involved in a number of activities and programmes. It has provided technical support on sexuality education to ministries of education in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), Africa, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Asia-Pacific. UNESCO teams also worked with civil society and the private sector to increase the impact and efficiency of a coordinated HIV response. 

With one year remaining before the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, we must review the significant progress made in responding to HIV and AIDS and consider the challenges that lie ahead to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. As one of six founding cosponsors of UNAIDS, UNESCO has been working for over two decades to support countries in strengthening the education sector response to HIV and AIDS, to provide young people with gender-sensitive, age-appropriate education about their sexual and reproductive health. We can take considerable pride in the progress achieved across the world in response to AIDS, and this gives us encouragement to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. However, caution is required along with confidence -- if the HIV epidemic can end within a generation, it can also resurge within a generation, if we fail to keep up and expand the actions proven to get ahead of it.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General

UNESCO is focusing on the needs of young people and adolescents for coordinated sexual and reproductive health education and services. UNESCO is also exploring new ways of reaching large numbers of young people in an efficient and effective manner to provide comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health information (see HIV and Health e-Newsletter for further details e.g. Peer Education Hub, First Global Forum on Youth Policies, civil society partners such as YouthLEAD). In addition, UNESCO is training leaders to improve programming for young key populations and has started developing global guidance to prevent school related gender-based violence, a driver of the HIV epidemic.

As of the end of 2013 there were an estimated 35 million people living with HIV, of which 2.1 were infected in the past year, and 4 million where young people. Nonetheless, new HIV infections have declined by 38% since 2001 and the number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) accessing antiretroviral therapy is increasing. There are an estimated 13.6 million PLHIV receiving antiretroviral therapy, though challenges remain to increase the number of children accessing treatment. The latest fact sheet on the global AIDS epidemic is available here

The last few years have seen a distinctive change in the HIV and AIDS response. International funding is decreasing while domestic funding in several countries is increasing. Advances in medical research and technology, as well as lessons learned on what works and doesn’t are requiring adaptation of the response to new realities (please see box on UNESCO’s publication Charting the Course of Education and HIV, now available in French, for further analysis of these changes and the way forward).

To Close the Gap and accelerate progress in the global response to HIV and AIDS, UNAIDS presents its Fast Track Strategy and Targets to end the epidemic by 2030 in the just published World AIDS Day Report 2014

Related information

Message from the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova (PDF) 
AR | CHEN | FRRUSP |

Message from the Executive Director of UNAIDS 
EN |FR | SP | RU

Background

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Publication

Newsletter 2014

This edition highlights a small selection of the many programmes and events being supported by UNESCO’s regional and country offices with a focus on the World AIDS Day 2014. More

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Fast track Cities

On December 1st, the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo will host a high profile meeting of Mayors from around the world to launch the initiative Fast-Track Cities: ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030...  

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More about the Event: Fast Track Cities

On December 1st, the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo will host a high profile meeting of Mayors from around the world to launch the initiative Fast-Track Cities: ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Cities are encouraged to join this movement because urban areas are home to 60% of the 35 million people living with HIV and because they can play a critical role by taking advantage of their political institutions and dense population to reach people more efficiently. Thus, they can ensure that in the HIV response no-one is left behind.

Mayors will gather at the City Hall of Paris to make a joint Declaration of their determination, and sign commitments for Fast-Track Targets to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

This event is co-organized by the city of Paris, UNAIDS, UN Habitat and the International Association of Providers of AIDS care (IAPAC). It will include civil society as well as leading physicians and key stakeholders.

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