UNODC celebrates World AIDS Day in Tehran
Tehran, 3 December- In collaboration with the Drug Control Headquarters (DCHQ), UNODC organized a ceremony to commemorate World AIDS Day on the 3 rd of December 2011 in Shaghayegh Cultural Complex in Tehran. Worldwide, the theme of World AIDS Day this year was : "Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination, and Zero AIDS related deaths by 2015". UNODC is striving on the global level for zero new HIV infections among drug users and in closed settings, including prisons.
The Director General of the Treatment and Social Support Office of the DCHQ, Dr. Saberi Zafarghandi opened the ceremony emphasizing the importance of the event. The representative of UNAIDS, Dr. Fardad Doroudi, explained UNAIDS vision statement on "Getting to zero" by 2015 and stressed the importance of the role of NGOs active in this field. The Head of AIDS Control Office of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Abbas Sedaghat, presented data on the situation of HIV/AIDS in Iran and the related activities of the ministry. He also said: "Although we are concerned about the new wave of HIV transmission i.e the sexual route, we are also worried about the return of the second wave of transmission, through drug injecting."
UNODC Deputy Representative, Mr. Kaveh Moradi, read the message of UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov who said: "UNODC has a great number of highly qualified HIV and AIDS advisers in the field, ready to share their knowledge and experience with any country, if requested. Particularly in the area of drug use and in prisons, we are mandated by our governing bodies to assist countries. We stand ready to fulfill these mandates."
In Iran, around 70 % of HIV registered cases are drug injecting users. The national authorities have adopted HIV prevention policies and increased the access of drug injecting users to HIV prevention services. In addition, HIV prevention activities were introduced in the prisons which led to the decrease in HIV transmission among inmates. UNODC has been supporting national efforts to address the problem of HIV. It established the first Drop-In Center in Tehran in 2003 and launched the first Methadone Maintenance Treatment program. In the framework of its country program for 2011-2014, UNODC developed a wide range of activities to increase the access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services for drug users, inmates and their families. In addition, UNODC is contributing to strengthening the capacities of NGOs and raising awareness on HIV in the community, among law enforcement and prison staff.
During the ceremony, a group of Iranian actors performed an act on stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. Following the act, three persons living with HIV shared their personal stories also through lyrics, highlighting the discrimination they have been facing in the society at large, at their workplace, in the schools, within their families and even in the clinical setting. "I had the impression that the entire world had been conspiring against me and for a long time, I was wondering if I could resist it. Then I decided to do something about it. So I joined an NGO to contribute in raising the awareness on HIV in my community".