Press Release

Heed Expert Advice of Women, Youth, in AIDS Response, UNFPA Urges World Leaders

10 June 2008
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York – World leaders attending a high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS here this week should pay more attention to women and youth, especially those living with HIV and AIDS, and seek their expert advice in responding to the epidemic. In addition, interventions addressing AIDS and sexual and reproductive health should be integrated in order to become mutually reinforcing, according to UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

Several Heads of State and Government and more than 80 ministers are expected to attend the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS, which will review progress in the fight against AIDS, on 10 – 11 June.

“Today, only 4 in 10 young people know how to prevent HIV infection, and this is not good enough,” said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid in a message to the participants. “The overwhelming majority of HIV infections are sexually transmitted or associated with pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Thus, integrated services are essential to meet the needs of women and couples. And to be effective, we must redouble efforts to address gender inequities.”

To make young people’s voices heard during the event, UNFPA, along with partners, is organizing an event on “Overcoming Barriers in Educating Young People about Sex and HIV.” The event will feature 12 young people from around the world who will discuss their personal experiences in fighting HIV/AIDS. The event will take place on Tuesday, 10 June, from 1:15pm to 2:45 p.m., at the United Nations Delegates’ Dining Room.

A report presented by the United Nations Secretary-General to the General Assembly during the high-level meeting underlines that country reports on HIV/AIDS do not clearly show the extent of the implementation of women-sensitive strategies at the country level. Accordingly, he recommends “countries should ensure massive political and social mobilization to address gender inequities, sexual norms and their roles in increasing HIV risk and vulnerability.” UNFPA will lead a discussion of these recommendations during an event entitled, “Making the Response to AIDS Work for Women and Girls: Gender Equality and AIDS,” which will take place on Wednesday, 11 June, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Conference Room 4.

“Today, only 1 in 3 HIV-positive pregnant women have access to treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission,” said Ms. Obaid. “More than 25 years into the epidemic, every woman and girl should know how to prevent HIV infection. Every HIV- positive woman should have access to voluntary family planning. And every HIV- infected mother who is about to deliver should be able to prevent transmission to her child and to receive life-saving therapy for herself.”

***

Contact information:

Rosemary Musumba
Tel.: +1 212 297 5021
Email: musumba@unfpa.org

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