Statements and Webcast
H.E. Ms. Karin Johansson, State Secretary at the Ministry for Health and Social Affairs
9 June 2011
- Statement: English (Check against delivery)
KARIN JOHANSSON, State Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of Sweden, said that in the decade ahead, the most strategic choice the international community could make towards comprehensively tackling the HIV/AIDS pandemic would be to focus on young people. Indeed, even though they made up half the world’s population, their needs were sorely neglected. Investing in future generations was one of Sweden’s top priorities, and evidence-based prevention was the only way to reach the goal of zero new infections. Young people should have access to comprehensive sex education so they could make informed choices. “For the youngest, it’s about getting to know how the body works and understanding the concept of physical integrity,” she said, adding that, for teenagers and others, empowerment was the key, as well as ensuring that they were at ease with raising the issue of condom use in intimate situations with a partner.
She said her country also believed that young people must be involved in the development of sexual and reproductive health services and information. Indeed, there was no better way to empower and enable them to protect themselves and others. Human rights, of which sexual and reproductive health rights were an integral part, were a prerequisite for HIV prevention and treatment. In that regard, criminalization of homosexuality was a violation of human rights, as were laws that discriminated against HIV-positive individuals. Whenever human rights were not respected and protected, or were violated, stigma increased and prevention and care efforts were undermined, she said, calling for an end to discrimination and more efforts to meet the needs of HIV-positive young people.