Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Top UN Official Tells of 'Inhumane' Treatment of AIDS Victims

By Rich Bowden

Img: UNAIDS logo.

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), has underlined the problem over the stigma that remains attached to AIDS sufferers and activists in the Asia Pacific by describing reports his office receives of “senseless, vicious and inhumane” treatment.

Speaking in a statement delivered by J. V. R. Prasada Rao, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team, at the week-long 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Bali, Indonesia, Sidibé contrasted the economic and social development of the Asia Pacific region in recent years with the enduring discrimination against AIDS sufferers.

"The region has been achieving breathtaking economic growth and social development, especially in the last decade," he said in the statement reported by the UN News Centre, but added this achievement "...has not been matched by progress in creating the enabling environments and supportive social norms necessary to deliver a future generation free of HIV."

According to a report released in 2008, over five million people in the Asian region, and 74,000 in the Pacific, carried the HIV virus in 2007. The study added that AIDS was the most likely cause of death and work days lost of people between the ages of 15 to 44.

Sidibé said UNAIDS continued to receive reports of harrassment of AIDS sufferers and activists and said his organisation would continue to work towards supporting laws in the region which would lift the stigma from AIDS.

However he said that "...real transformation has to come in the hearts and minds of the people," pointing out that "...courts and parliaments can only create an enabling environment."

"Societies and communities have to change the social norms to end stigma and discrimination faced by transgender, men who have sex with men, sex workers and injecting drug users," he said.

Delegates from 65 countries are attending the event which will run until Thursday.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts