The International AIDS Conference 2012 was launched last night in Washington, DC. Around 20,000 delegates from 200 countries are expected to attend, as a unique gathering of world leaders, academics, activists, policy makers and civil society join together to fortify a global effort to fight HIV & AIDS over the conference’s week-long proceedings.
AIDS 2012 comes at an opportune time, with UNAIDS releasing its latest report, ‘Together we will end AIDS’ on July 18. With a record 8 million people are now receiving antiretroviral therapy across the globe, the report provides the scope and size of the epidemic, and announces that more countries are now increasing their own share of investments for HIV. Dr Diane Havlir, an AIDS specialist from San Francisco spoke during the opening ceremony and said it would be “an extraordinary failure of global will and conscience” if the US government blocks federal funding. Dr Havlir said that we have the chance to “start to end AIDS”.
Here is a snapshot from the official AIDS 2012 conference trailer ‘Turning the Tide Together’:
Michel Kazatchkine appointed by UN Secretary-General as Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS for Eastern Europe and Central Asia
On behalf of Pacific Friends, we warmly congratulate Michel Kazatchkine on his appointment as the United Nations Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Michel will bring his immense experience to assisting the nations of the region to confront what is probably the most difficult and challenging of all the regional HIV/AIDS epidemics.
We wish him all success as he takes up his new responsibilities.
Wendy McCarthy AO
Chair, Pacific Friends of the Global Fund
Bill Bowtell AO
Executive Director, Pacific Friends of the Global Fund
Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and now Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, has challenged New Zealand to become the first country to wipe out the spread and stigma of HIV & AIDS. Moreover, she called upon the country for to increase awareness about safe sex, cautioning that New Zealanders are becoming complacent about the risks of HIV & AIDS. Together with UNAIDS executive director, Michel Sidibé, she stressed the point that a continued focus on HIV prevention work is absolutely critical and must not be compromised as a priority.
Helen Clark joins UNAIDS Executive Director Michael Sidibé to discuss the global fight against AIDS.
Pacific Friends is looking forward to welcome to Australia next month UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé. In 2010 we already had the pleasure of a visit by Michel in which he spoke about the challenges and responses to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.
This year’s Australian visit of the executive director comes just after The New York Times featured this week a wonderful article that chronicles Michel Sidibé’s so-called ‘charm offensive against AIDS’.
Michel Sidibe: A video interview with the executive director of UNAIDS on the importance of diplomacy and social change in fighting the AIDS epidemic. Source: The New York Times
Some excerpts from the not-to-be-missed article on The New York Times website:
With a combination of bonhomie and persistence, he has delivered difficult messages to African presidents very persuasively in his three years in office: Convince your men to get circumcised. Tell your teenage girls not to sleep with older men for money. Shelve your squeamishness and talk about condoms. Help prostitutes instead of jailing them. Ask your preachers to stop railing against homosexuals and order your police forces to stop beating them. Let Western scientists test new drugs and vaccines, despite the inevitable rumors that Africans are being used as guinea pigs.
Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa’s health minister, said Mr. Sidibe pursued him relentlessly at a United Nations conference in New York until they met. They became co-conspirators in getting Jacob Zuma, the country’s new president, to budget more money for AIDS drugs and to press drug companies to lower prices. “I was new to my office, and this man was just chasing me,” Dr. Motsoaledi said. “He insisted South Africa must take leadership on AIDS for Africa. I said: ‘What about Botswana?’ But he insisted.”
In a major speech in 2010, Mr. Zuma increased the national AIDS budget by 30 percent and, along with Mr. Sidibe, publicly took an AIDS test.
Globally, Mr. Sidibé says, he is trying to “be a voice for those without one.” The groups that most need help, he argues, are the ones that no politician wants to be photographed with: gay men, prostitutes, transvestites, heroin users.
Mr. Sidibé has also fought hard against harsh anti-gay laws in Africa, against hate crimes like the “corrective rapes” of lesbians by South African gangs — and against the widespread belief that homosexuality is a Western import.
“If we can win this one,” Mr. Sidibé will say, “I can go back home and sit under my mango tree and feel proud.”
UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador James Chau joined us for last year’s World AIDS Day. James is also news anchor at China Central Television (CCTV) and made sure that the World AIDS Day celebrations in Sydney were widely covered in the Chinese media. His interview with Sir Elton John has been widely broadcasted in China, reaching some 200 million viewers.
Of course, we all know that Elton John is immensely popular all around the world, but he is one of the few entertainers from the ‘West’ who is truly well-known amongst all generations in China. James Chau spoke with Elton John about his pioneering action on AIDS and his Foundation. Below the interview and a longer version of the interview that was aired as a holiday special on the 30th of December 2011.
Global Health News
Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.