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"AIDS Has Been An ‘Agent For Change’"

Chief Of UN Agency Combating AIDS Says Disease Has Been ‘Agent For Change’

New York, Dec 18 2008 6:10PM

The United Nations agency, charged with coordinating the world body’s fight against HIV/AIDS, has seen a great deal of change since it was launched in 1996, said its outgoing chief.

“AIDS has been a powerful agent for change from exposing to overcoming injustices,” said Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), while attending his last UNAIDS board meeting, which wrapped up yesterday in Geneva.

“Thanks to AIDS, issues around the health workforce crisis, health systems crisis, human rights issues, gay rights issues, women’s rights issues, and gender-based violence are all on the agenda,” he added.

The Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) meeting was attended by more than 300 participants and observers from UN Member States, international organizations, civil society, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

While applauding Dr. Piot’s leadership and vision, incoming Executive Director Michel Sidibé pointed to his priorities going forward, including a new era of accountability, addressing stigma and discrimination and delivering on human rights, as well as sustaining investments.

“It is time to put our collective wisdom together so that we can move decisively, with a clear focus on results, on action, delivery and effectiveness,” said Mr Sidibé.

At the outcome of the three-day meeting, the Board strongly encouraged all countries to eliminate HIV-specific restrictions on entry, stay and residence and to ensure that people living with HIV are no longer excluded, detained or deported on the basis of their status.

Among other the issues discussed at the meeting were gender-sensitivity of AIDS responses, civil society involvement in the PCB and the UNAIDS’ budget and plan of action for the year.


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