Message by Antonio Maria Costa,
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
World AIDS Day, Vienna, 1 December 2006
STOP AIDS: Keep the promise
Over the past quarter century, AIDS has taken the lives of 25 million people. High level statements like the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS (2001) or pledges made by the G8 have promised to stop AIDS. But the disease keeps spreading. This year, the message of World AIDS Day is that we have to do more to keep the promise, particularly among vulnerable groups.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime pays special attention to the problem of HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users, in prisons, and among victims of human trafficking. Many people in these categories fall through the cracks of society and are marginalized. We cannot afford to let them be stigmatized or discriminated against.
We need to ensure that there is universal access to adequate prevention, care, treatment and support. All people have a right to access a comprehensive range of HIV/AIDS services, no matter where they live and no matter who they are.
Special attention should be paid to the special needs of women and young people. Their vulnerability is compounded by the stigmatization that they face for either taking drugs, being in prison or becoming victims of trafficking. Contracting HIV/AIDS then further adds to the stigma. This is particularly tragic for those women who contract HIV as victims of violence, for example in prisons or as trafficking victims.
In some countries, particularly those neighbouring Afghanistan, the rates of infection are reaching epidemic proportions. Fortunately, the Office has received significant funding to address this challenge and new projects are being introduced to help target vulnerable groups.
UNODC is strengthening its efforts as an active participant in UNAIDS and working to keep the promise to stop AIDS.
You can help by taking an HIV/AIDS training course and making yourself and your family better aware of the risks.