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2010 World AIDS Day in Bangkok

Bangkok (Thailand), 1 December 2010 - On 1 December people around the world commemorated World AIDS Day and the several hundred colleagues, working at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) were no exception.

In Bangkok, World AIDS Day activities already began on 28 November with a campaign led by the Thailand Business Coalition on AIDS and the Ministry of Public Health. The United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), UNODC and other co-sponsors joined the campaign which was launched in Jatujak park.

The United Nations set up a joint booth in the park and distributed relevant resource material to the public. The event was attended by the Minister of Public Health, Mr. Jurin Laksanawisit, United Nations representatives as well as non-governmental organizations and the general public.

Speaking on the occasion of the campaign launch, Gary Lewis, UNODC Regional Represetative for East Asia and the Pacific said that "people who use drugs continue to be stigmatized and discriminated against across the East Asia and the Pacific region.

Echoing the Secretary General on his message for the World AIDS Day he went on to say that: "I urge governments and civil society to address stigma and discrimination related to drug use and to make universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for people who use drugs a reality. Our goal is clear, zero new infections among people who inject drugs; nothing else will suffice. To achieve that goal, our focus must be on public health approaches that are grounded on human rights."

Throughout the day, different outreach activities took place at various locations in Bangkok and the event concluded with a "Lights for Rights" on-stage activity in Jatujak park in support of the global 100 cities World AIDS Day Lights for Rights commemoration coordinated by UNAIDS for 2010.

On 1 December, World AIDS Day was launched at ESCAP. Information booths with the latest publications from UNAIDS and co-sponsors were set up throughout the premises, and colleagues were encouraged sign up for HIV orientation training and test their knowledge about HIV and AIDS by taking part in a quiz.

Everybody was encouraged by United Nations colleagues to wear their red ribbon. Free condoms and USB sticks were also made available throughout the day.

When as asking Mark, a colleagues from UNDP, why he felt it is important to wear the red ribbon he stated that: "Wearing the red ribbon is a reminder of how much we and our government partners have accomplished, and a yardstick of how far we have yet to go."

Throughout Bangkok, many other events took place to mark World AIDS Day. Many colleagues joined film stars and well known community figures for a walk in Lumpini park which was led by popular music bands and accompanied by soldiers on horse back.

The Thai Red Cross organized a major exhibition and the event culminated with Her Royal Highness, Princess Soamsawalee overseeing a candlelight ceremony. There were on-stage performances as well as ceremonial activities, and awards were presented to those who have excelled in the HIV response.