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UNAIDS
President Zuma and UNAIDS Executive Director call for mass

December 1, 2009
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.

Resources:

Related information:

World AIDS Day 2009 - http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/Resources/FeatureStories /archive/2009/WAD_2009_LP.asp

2009 World AIDS Day statements - http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/Resources/FeatureStories /archive/2009/20091130_WADstatements.asp

South Africa - http://www.unaids.org/en/CountryResponses/Countries/south_africa. asp

Speeches:

World AIDS Day address by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe (01 December 2009) - http://data.unaids.org/pub/SpeechEXD/2009/20091201_ms_speech_wad0 9_en.pdf

Address by thePresident of the Republic of South Africa, HE Mr Jacob Zuma, to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) - http://www.info.gov.za/speeches/2009/09120112151001.htm

"Universal Access and Human Rights" Message from Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, on the occasion of World AIDS Day, 1 December 2009 - http://data.unaids.org/pub/SpeechEXD/2009/20091201_exd_wad_messag e_en.pdf

Statements:

Statement by UNAIDS and the European Union Presidency World AIDS Day (1 December 2009) - http://data.unaids.org/pub/PressStatement/2009/20091201_jointstat ementeu_en.pdf

Multimedia:

View photo gallery - http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/Resources/PhotoGal/20091 201_sidibe_south_africa.asp

Feature stories:

President heralds new era in South Africa's AIDS response (01 November 2009) - http://www.aegis.org/news/unaids/2009/UN091101.html

Publications:

UNAIDS Outlook 2010 (pdf, 4 Mb.) - http://data.unaids.org/pub/Report/2009/2009_UNAIDSOutlook_en.pdf

2009 AIDS epidemic update (pdf, 3 Mb.) - http://data.unaids.org/pub/Report/2009/2009_epidemic_update_en.pdf

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