If you are one of the many travellers landing in Geneva airport
this week, you will surely notice the gigantic red ribbons at the
arrival and departure levels of a city that has chosen to join
forces with UNAIDS and the myriad civil society organizations to
draw attention to Human Rights and World AIDS Day.
A home for many international organizations, the City of Geneva
is an example in its response to HIV in the community. With a
rate of almost one person in a hundred living with HIV, Geneva is
one of the cities most impacted by the epidemic in Switzerland.
The epidemic is mainly driven by injecting drug use and same-sex
sex. However, the many HIV prevention programmes in place are
showing results: last year not a single new case of HIV infection
due to injecting drug use was diagnosed.
Faithfull to its commitment to proactively respond to the
epidemic and address the needs of those affected by it, the city,
including many private sector companies, responded favourably to
the call to collectively mark World AIDS Day.
"We think that AIDS is an important issue for the people of
Geneva and we are very happy to join with the United Nations and
civil society to show our commitment to address the needs of
people living with HIV, but also to sensitize the public about an
epidemic that is affecting millions of people around the world,"
says Remy Pagani, Mayor of the City of Geneva.
Geneva activities are led by a World AIDS Day Committee bringing
together UN staff and members of international and local
organizations such as Groupe sida Geneve. They were driven by the
desire to share their commitment to the cause of HIV and pulled
together their creativity and phone books to mobilize as many
people as possible around World AIDS day.
The community came together to form a spectacular human red
ribbon made up of approximately 200 people from the UN,
international and local networks working on AIDS.
As a result, not only is the Airport of Geneva involved, but also
red ribbons with a plaque explaining the symbol of the ribbon
were placed by five key monuments around Lake Leman. World AIDS
Day posters depicting human rights messages can be seen on local
trams and the local hotels offered to place red ribbons and a
programme of events at their reception desks.
The Ville de Geneve has been a strong partner throughout,
illuminating the St Pierre Cathedral and the Phare des Paquis.
Local media were also very responsive, giving coverage of World
AIDS Day with interviews of local and international community
members to illustrate both the reality of living with HIV in
Geneva and how the local authorities are responding.
A solidarity lunch was organized in the UNAIDS Secretariat
Headquarters to raise funds for children affected by HIV in
Cameroon. While Groupe sida Geneve took the lead in organizing
evening commemorative events around town to remember the friends
and family lost to AIDS, but also to celebrate positive living
towards a world free from stigma and discrimination.
Switzerland - http://www.unaids.org/en/CountryResponses/Countries/switzerland.asp
World AIDS Day 2009 -