United Press International (11.03.11) - Friday, November 04,
Experts gathered at the Qatar Symposium on Family, the
Millennium Development Goals and AIDS in the Middle East on
Thursday in Doha said HIV/AIDS-related discrimination is
hindering the region's ability to effectively provide
universal access to prevention, treatment, care, and support.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is one of the
few worldwide where HIV/AIDS is still on the rise, attendees
"AIDS is an unusual disease that requires an unusual response:
a multi-sector approach involving governments, [non-
governmental organizations], the medical profession and
religious leaders - there is a need for all members of society
to work together," said Samir Anouti, UNICEF's regional
"The centrality of the role of the family is essential in
response to the spread of the disease," Anouti said. "This is
where we look forward to the outcomes of this symposium."
Dr. Richard G. Wilkins, executive director of the Doha
International Institute for Family Studies and Development,
which hosted the symposium, agreed. "In the fight against
HIV/AIDS, it is important to uphold family values first and
foremost, minimizing behavior that may lead to the spread of
this epidemic," he said. "Most importantly, however, victims
of HIV should live without fear of discrimination:
discrimination from health care provision; discrimination from
society; and discrimination from their families."
"As little as 10 years ago, it was difficult to talk openly
about the problem of HIV and AIDS in the MENA region," said
Hind Khatib, UNAIDS' regional director. "The fact that people
living with HIV are at the heart of the AIDS response shows
that we have progressed and are moving forward in the right
direction in terms of awareness."