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World AIDS Day, 1 December 2009

Background

This year’s theme for World AIDS Day is “Universal Access and Human Rights”.

This theme presents opportunities to:

Why is the theme timely?

The world’s current economic woes are forcing governments to make some painful choices as fiscal austerity measures are put into effect. As World AIDS Day is commemorated, it is vital to underscore that scaling back the response to AIDS could reverse gains being made, including the declining number of new HIV infections and fewer deaths caused by AIDS.

With only five years to go towards the MDG target to halt and reverse the spread of HIV, 2010 marks a major milestone. Member States of the United Nations made a commitment to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by this year.

The realization of universal access requires that the central role of human rights be recognized. As highlighted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in places where human rights were promoted to protect people living with HIV and members of vulnerable groups, there were fewer infections, less demand for antiretroviral treatment and fewer deaths.

Stigma, discrimination and criminalization are driving vulnerable populations into darkness, where they cannot be reached by life-saving information, HIV testing, treatment and other services. The theme calls for all of us to shine the light of human rights to stop the AIDS epidemic.

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