Universal Access and Human Rights mark World AIDS Day

December 1, 2010 - Since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, approximately 60 million people have been infected with HIV and more than 20 million have died. UNAIDS estimates, released last week, indicate that there has been a stabilization of the epidemic in different parts of the world and that 33.3 million people living with HIV. The achievement was celebrated, but is not enough, since many of those living with HIV / AIDS still suffer with prejudice and the lack of access to basic health services.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2010, is "universal access and human rights". Under this theme, many countries participate this year in the campaign "Lights for Rights", organized by the Foundation for AIDS Research, amfAR, and Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. As part of the 2010 campaign, 100 cities around the world were invited to turn off the lights in their public monuments, as a way to remember the devastating effects of stigmatization, discrimination and criminalization of people living with HIV, and then turn the lights completely back on, to symbolize the light on fundamental rights that belong to everyone, but are often denied to people living with HIV. Only by respecting the fundamental rights of people living with HIV / AIDS it is possible for them to have access to information, treatment and care needed to live a more healthy and productive life, as they deserve and are entitled to.

Among the phrases promoted in the campaign to recall on "universal access and human rights" are: being accepted, I am secure; get treatment; I am well; I am living my rights; everyone deserves to live their rights; right to life; right to health; universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support are fundamental human rights.

In his message on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2010, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said that ensuring universal access is a goal for everyone." Our common goal is clear: universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. We must also work to make the AIDS response sustainable." said Ban Ki-moon.

The executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV / AIDS, UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, emphasized the importance of commitment in the fight against AIDS. "We are prevailing…with political commitment, leadership from all sectors including leaders of faith…with science, with evidence, with human rights, and passion".

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) helps people live their rights, particularly those who are marginalized and at risk, such as drug users, victims of human trafficking and prisoners. This is part of a more comprehensive attention UNODC provides member states which includes activities in the treatment of addiction to drugs, drug prevention, the development of criminal justice systems, with the adoption of a more humanized treatment in prisons and the health protection of persons vulnerable to trafficking.

Esto es parte de una atención más amplia de la UNODC a los países miembros, que incluye actividades en el tratamiento de la adicción a las drogas, la prevención del consumo de drogas, el desarrollo de los sistemas de justicia penal, con la adopción de un trato más humano en las cárceles y la protección de la salud de las personas vulnerables a la trata.

For the UNODC executive director, Yuri Fedotov, despite progress, much remains to be done. "Serious challenges remain. The HIV epidemic among drug users is spreading in some countries, and prisons continue to be a breeding ground for HIV. In too many countries prisons suffer from appalling, substandard conditions, including serious overcrowding, poor hygienic conditions and inadequate management. The human rights and dignity of prisoners are often not guaranteed, and their rights to access to health care and preventive, curative, reproductive and palliative services are often not respected", he said in his message on World AIDS Day.
"While there is converging agreement on what needs to be done to halt and reverse the HIV epidemics among drug users and in closed settings, the main obstacles to achieving zero new HIV infections still remain: inadequate and often conflicting national policies and legislation; insufficient financial and human resources; and discrimination against drug users, prisoners and people living with HIV", he said.

UNODC and other members of UNAIDS are increasing its efforts to achieve universal access to prevention and treatment of HIV, according to the results expected in the UNAIDS Programme of Action for 2009-2011. The plan calls for joint actions to assist vulnerable people and to implement new measures to break the social, political and structural restrictions on prevention and treatment.

Also as part of activities marking the World AIDS Day 2010, the International Unit of the United Nations, in Vienna, is carrying out throughout December, the campaign "Know your status, get tested", with UN officials, offering counseling, free HIV testing, information on the subject and condoms.

Read the message from the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon

Read the message from the UNODC executive director, Yury Fedotov

Read the message from the executive director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe

See more about the Campaign Light for Rights

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