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  • From: procaare@usa.healthnet.org
  • Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 02:42:55 -0500 (EST)

Message from the Executive Director of UNAIDS and the Heads of UNAIDS
cosponsoring agencies on World AIDS Day - 1 December 1997

Today World AIDS Day is commemorated for the 10th time. The global community
is called upon to show their solidarity with people living with HIV
infection and to remember, through reflection and active involvement, all
those individuals who have already died of AIDS.

This year, World AIDS Day is the culmination of the first World AIDS
Campaign which was launched in June. The theme of the campaign, 'Children
Living in a World with AIDS', puts the focus on the youngest and often most
vulnerable members of society. Children, defined in the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child as all human beings under the age of
18 years, are increasingly touched by the epidemic. Children are affected
directly, by risking or acquiring HIV infection, and indirectly, by
suffering from the effects of HIV/AIDS on parents, siblings and friends. It
is estimated that well over 1000 children worldwide are now becoming
infected with HIV every day

In organizing this year's World AIDS Campaign, UNAIDS and its partners have
aimed to increase understanding of the magnitude and global dimensions of
the HIV/AIDS epidemic and its impact on children, their families and their
communities, and to strengthen the international response to these concerns.
In this effort, UNAIDS has been supported and advised by its six cosponsors
(UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank) and by the
Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights of the Harvard
School of Public Health, the Children and AIDS International NGO Network,
the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and PANOS. The
campaign has been a joint collaborative effort to maximize resources and
increase outreach and effectiveness

'Children Living in a World with AIDS' reminds everyone of us that although
progress has been made in the fight against HIV, the epidemic increasingly
affects all members of the global community. The campaign has raised the
world's attention to the issue of protecting young girls and boys from the
devastating effects of the epidemic on their lives. Today, all children of
the world face a lifetime threat from HIV. Children are exposed to the risk
of HIV infection at all different life stages, very early on through
mother-to-child transmission, and later through adverse circumstances such
as sexual exploitation and abuse, or the violation of their human rights to
information, education and services. Children who are infected are
vulnerable and often face discrimination. Children orphaned by AIDS can
easily fall into a vicious circle of poverty, discrimination and HIV
infection risk

Hope comes from better understanding and an increased awareness of how
children and young people are both infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Promoting children's rights, providing information to young people on the
risks of transmission and methods of prevention, educating on issues of
sexual health and making reproductive health services and counseling
available, have been shown to be effective ways of raising awareness,
changing behaviour and triggering action

Many activities undertaken during this year's World AIDS Campaign have
concerned children that live in the shadow of HIV risk. Projects have been
launched to care for children orphaned by AIDS and to support them within
their communities and family networks. Outreach campaigns for street
children informed and educated on HIV/AIDS issues and provided support.
Mobilization and sensitization of the general public regarding the risk of
HIV infection and the effects of HIV/AIDS on children and young people has
also been a focus. Other efforts have concentrated on increasing the
understanding of human and children's rights issues in HIV/AIDS and, in
parallel, of HIV/AIDS issues in human and children's rights initiatives

Many have included the participation of children themselves in events such
as regional workshops and theatre festivals or, for example, children
organizing their own radio programmes and discussing HIV/AIDS issues. People
and communities around the globe have become involved in the campaign and in
their respective ways have contributed significantly to raising awareness
about children living in a world with AIDS

On this day, we want to remember all those directly affected by the
epidemic, especially young girls and boys. We also want to thank everybody
who is supporting efforts to prevent transmission of HIV and protect all
children from the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS on their lives. We invite
the global community to join ranks with us and continue this work together
in the years to come

Statement signed by:

Peter Piot Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

Carol Bellamy Executive Director, United Nations Children's Fund

James Gustave Speth Administrator, United Nations Development Programme

Nafis Sadik Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund

Federico Mayor Director-General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization

Hiroshi Nakajima Director-General, World Health Organization James D.
Wolfensohn President, World Bank

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