Press Release

Prevention is Centrepiece of UN Population Fund's Response to HIV/AIDS, Says New Booklet for UN Special Session

22 June 2001
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York - With millions more newly infected with HIV every year - 5.3 million in 2000 - the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is supporting intensified action to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS. As part of its preparation for the United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS, to be held in New York from 25-27 June, UNFPA has produced a 28-page booklet, Preventing Infection, Protecting Reproductive Health: UNFPA's Response to HIV/AIDS.

In the booklet, UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid defines the Fund's role: "UNFPA is dedicating the very best it has to offer to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Fund will focus in particular on preventing HIV infection among young people and pregnant women through various interventions that range from abstinence and condom use, as immediate actions, to longer-term actions supporting behaviour change."

UNFPA is uniquely positioned to advance prevention, the booklet explains. Prevention is a priority of programmes supported by the Fund and carried out by a strong network of partners in approximately 150 countries. In addition, UNFPA maintains a system of technical support, logistics, quality control, forecasting and procurement that ensures a steady supply of high quality condoms and contraceptives at low cost.

The UNFPA response to HIV/AIDS builds on 30 years of experience in the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, and the provision of reproductive health information, services and commodities. After decades of negotiation with governments to promote access to family planning, the Fund has developed valuable expertise in addressing sensitive cultural and sexual issues such as those surrounding HIV/AIDS.

This heightened focus on prevention is in line with the call to action issued by Secretary-General Kofi Annan for a drastically and immediately scaled up global response. The General Assemby Special Session next week will aim to intensify international action to fight the epidemic and to mobilize the resources needed.

The new booklet, part of UNFPA's advocacy series promoting reproductive health and population issues, outlines the Fund's strategic approach, which includes:

  • Protecting young people by providing information and education that encourage safe behaviour, including abstinence and delaying the age of sexual activity;
  • Helping pregnant women avoid HIV infection and prevent transmission to their children and HIV-negative partners;
  • Improving access to and use of male and female condoms, taking into account user needs and perspectives;
  • Preventing sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections that make it easier for the virus to spread;
  • Empowering women and girls to refuse unsafe sex, abstain from sexual relations and negotiate condom use;
  • Meeting reproductive health needs in emergency and refugee situations;
  • Raising awareness of how gender issues such as discrimination and violence against women increase the risk of HIV/AIDS;
  • Enhancing cooperation among donors, governments, NGOs and other partners through the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The booklet, Preventing Infection, Promoting Reproductive Health: UNFPA's Response to HIV/AIDS, is being distributed worldwide through the Fund's country offices, and is available on the Fund's web site, at www.unfpa.org/aids.

Also on the web site is another recent UNFPA publication, Partners for Change: Enlisting Men in HIV/AIDS Prevention, which explores why changing men's behaviour is the surest way to change the course of the epidemic.

-- -- --

UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of population assistance to developing counties. The Fund supports reproductive health programmes including family planning and HIV prevention efforts worldwide. Working closely with partners in national governments, non-governmental organizations and other UN agencies, UNFPA places particular emphasis on prevention among young people and pregnant women, and condom programming.

Contact Information:

William A. Ryan
Tel.: +66 2 288 2446
Email: ryanw@unfpa.org

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