Statement on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2001

1 December 2001
Author: UNFPA

Never before has the issue of HIV/AIDS been so high on the political agenda. Never before have we seen such high levels of awareness and commitment. Yet, today on World AIDS Day, we must confront the sad reality that HIV continues to spread. From Africa to Eastern Europe to Asia, and again in many industrialized countries, infection rates are rising. This year, 5 million men, women and children were newly infected. Today, half of all new infections occur among young people aged 15 to 24, and young girls are the most vulnerable.

This is indeed troubling because we know prevention works. Prompt, large-scale prevention programmes have reduced rates of HIV infection in Thailand, Cambodia and Uganda, and maintained low prevalence rates in Senegal.

As a priority, we must provide greater access to education, life-skills, health care and opportunities in life so people can protect themselves from infection. We must empower girls and women so they can avoid unprotected and unwanted sexual relations. We must confront the conditions of poverty and discrimination that feed the epidemic.

We must help boys and men to understand how social norms and stereotypes can increase their risk of infection. Men have a key role to play in turning this epidemic around, and share responsibility for protecting themselves, their partners and their families.

The motto of this year’s World AIDS Day is “I Care…Do you? For all of us the answer must be yes if we are to stop HIV and AIDS from claiming more lives, decimating families, destabilizing communities, and endangering the well-being of future generations.

The United Nations Population Fund is strongly committed to preventing further infections, particularly among young people and pregnant women. But we cannot win the battle alone. Everyone has a role to play.

Today on World AIDS Day, let us join hands and commit ourselves to do all we can to halt and reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS. Let us demonstrate through action that we do care.

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