To mark World AIDS Day, UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel
Sidibe joined President Jacob Zuma and South Africans in their
national commemoration in Pretoria where he called for the
forging of a mass prevention movement.
Mr Sidibe was in the company of the President of the Republic of
South Africa Mr Jacob Zuma and Minster of Health Dr Aaron
Motsoaledi at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria for an event
attended by thousands of participants. At the event, President
Zuma made a commitment to take an HIV test, personifying the
theme of the South African celebrations-I am Responsible.
Mr Sidibe, in his World AIDS Day address referred to South
African President Mr Zuma's landmark speech in October to the
National Council of Provinces in Parliament. That speech, praised
by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, marked a fundamental break
from the past outlining bold and ambitious goals to turn the tide
on AIDS epidemic.
"I am here today to stand in solidarity with your commitment and
vision--you are giving hope to so many millions who have been
waiting for South Africa to join the front line in the global
response," said Mr Sidibe.
In South Africa an estimated 5.7 million were people living with
HIV in 2007; the world's largest population of people living with
HIV. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region most heavily affected
by HIV worldwide, accounting for over two thirds of all people
living with HIV and for nearly three quarters of AIDS-related
deaths in 2008.
"Our message is simple," President Zuma said, "we have to stop
the spread of HIV. We must reduce the rate of new infections.
Prevention is our most powerful weapon against the epidemic."
President Zuma announced the provision of HIV treatment to all
children under one year of age if they test positive.
He also spoke of South Africa's goal of universal voluntary HIV
testing: "To take our response a step forward, we are launching a
massive campaign to mobilise all South Africans to get tested for
HIV. Every South African should know his or her HIV status."
South Africa's renewal of commitment for an evidence-informed
AIDS response, calling its citizens to know their status, reduce
risk and seek treatment, is pivotal to the success of the AIDS
response regionally, on the African continent, and beyond.
There is hope for universal access; in 2008, 44% of adults and
children in the region in need of antiretroviral therapy had
access to treatment. Five years earlier, the regional treatment
coverage was only 2%.
However, Mr Sidibe noted, "with 7400 new infections across the
world every day, to change the trajectory of the epidemic there
is need to forge a mass prevention revolution movement."
Also speaking at the event, was Prudence Mabele who has been
living openly with HIV since 1992. "As a person living with HIV I
welcome the leadership of the Government in the new fight against
HIV," Ms Mabele said, imploring the South African people "Let us
all know our own status so we can all live positive." Ms Mabele
featured on the cover of UNAIDS Outlook 2010
Earlier in the day, Mr Sidibe attended a European Union (EU)
World AIDS Day commemoration hosted by the Ambassador of Sweden
Mr Peter Tejler, local representative of the Swedish EU
Presidency at the Swedish Embassy in Pretoria.
During this event the UNAIDS head stressed the importance of an
AIDS response based in Human Rights, noting that there is an
urgent need to refocus on HIV prevention.
"Universal obstacles to human rights are getting in the way of
universal access," said Mr Sidibe.
Ms Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish Minister of International
Development Cooperation called for increased gender equality in
the AIDS response, "Women and girl's rights must be secured
including the right to sexual and reproductive health. All forms
of gender based violence must come to an end."
Mr Mark Heywood, deputy chair of the South African National AIDS
Council,and Judge Edwin Cameron, Constitutional Court of South
Africa were also in attendance.
World AIDS Day 2009 -
2009 World AIDS Day statements -
South Africa -
World AIDS Day address by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe
(01 December 2009) -
Address by thePresident of the Republic of South Africa, HE Mr
Jacob Zuma, to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) -
"Universal Access and Human Rights" Message from Michel Sidibe,
Executive Director of UNAIDS, on the occasion of World AIDS Day,
1 December 2009 -
Statement by UNAIDS and the European Union Presidency World AIDS
Day (1 December 2009) -
View photo gallery -
President heralds new era in South Africa's AIDS response (01
November 2009) -
UNAIDS Outlook 2010 (pdf, 4 Mb.) -
2009 AIDS epidemic update (pdf, 3 Mb.) -