WORLD AIDS DAY TO BE OBSERVED AT HEADQUARTERS, 26 NOVEMBER

Note No. 5767
20 November 2002

WORLD AIDS DAY TO BE OBSERVED AT HEADQUARTERS, 26 NOVEMBER

20/11/2002
Press Release
Note No. 5767


Note to Correspondents


WORLD AIDS DAY TO BE OBSERVED AT HEADQUARTERS, 26 NOVEMBER


‘Live and Let Live’ Addresses Issue of Stigma, Discrimination;

Events Include Town-Hall Meeting, Exhibit Opening, Film Screening


An observance of World AIDS Day will take place on 26 November 2002 from    3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Conference Room 4.  The programme, a town-hall meeting, will follow the theme designated by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) for this year’s World AIDS Campaign, “Live and Let Live”, which highlights the importance of overcoming stigma and discrimination in addressing the epidemic.  The observance is co-sponsored by the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), UNAIDS, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Bank.


Desmond Johns, Director, New York Office, UNAIDS, will begin the programme with some welcoming remarks.  Jan Kavan, President of the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly, and Louise Fréchette, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, will deliver opening statements.


Award-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg will make a special appearance, along with Kami, from Takalani Sesame (South Africa’s production of Sesame Street), the HIV-positive Muppet recently introduced to encourage a culture of acceptance in a country that has been hit particularly hard by the epidemic.


Ann Curry of NBC Television’s The Today Show will moderate the town-hall meeting, which will feature a variety of participants, from people living with HIV/AIDS, to those working at the community, town and village levels, to international celebrities, all of whom are striving to overcome HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.  Participants include Ann Claxton, Director, International Program Development, World Vision United States; Dennis de Leon, Executive Director, Latino Commission on AIDS; Paul D. Di Donato, Executive Director, Funders Concerned About AIDS; Elizabeth Dudu, field worker, Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (South Africa); Debra Fraser-Howze, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS; Nicholas Fucile, Founder, United Nations AIDS Hotline; Ron Johnson, Associate Executive Director, Gay Men’s Health Crisis; Naisadet Mason, Director of National Programs, National Association of People with AIDS; Joseph Pressley, Executive Director, New York AIDS Coalition; Sandra Thurman, President, International AIDS Trust; and Wojciech J. Tomczynski, National Network of People Living with AIDS (Poland).

According to UNAIDS, stigma and discrimination are major obstacles to effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care.  Fear and discrimination may prevent people from seeking treatment for AIDS or from acknowledging their HIV status publicly.  People with, or suspected of having, HIV may be turned away from health-care services, denied housing and employment, shunned by their friends and colleagues, turned down for insurance coverage or refused entry into foreign countries.  In some cases, they may be evicted from home by their families, divorced by their spouses, and suffer physical violence or even murder.  The stigma attached to HIV/AIDS may extend into the next generation, placing an emotional burden on children who may also be trying to cope with the death of their parents from AIDS.


The town-hall meeting will be broadcast live over the Internet.  The live Webcast and archived video will be available in Real Media format at the following address: http://www.un.org/webcast.  Links to the United Nations Webcast site are encouraged.


Other activities taking place at Headquarters on 26 November in connection with World AIDS Day include:


The new UNAIDS/WHO report, AIDS Epidemic Update:  December 2002, which contains new global and regional statistics for HIV infections and AIDS deaths, will be launched at a press conference at 10 a.m. in room S-226.  Speakers are Cate Hankins, Associate Director of Strategic Information, UNAIDS, and Dr. Johns, Director, New York Office, UNAIDS.


A separate town-hall meeting for high school students will be held from  4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Conference Room 1.  Recording artist Mary J. Blige will participate.  The students will preview the film “Pandemic:  Facing AIDS” (see below) and be presented with the corresponding education packet.  The meeting is being organized by DPI, the M*A*C AIDS Fund and M*A*C Cosmetics.


“Pandemic:  Imaging AIDS”, an exhibit consisting of more than

100 photographic works on the topic of AIDS by award-winning international photographers, will be opened at 6 p.m. in the General Assembly Visitors’ Lobby.  The exhibit will be on display through 10 January 2003.  Thérèse Gastaut, Director, Strategic Communications Division, and Officer-in-charge, DPI,and exhibit curator Nan Richardson, Publisher, Umbrage Editions, will make opening remarks.


“Pandemic:  Facing AIDS”, a documentary film by Rory Kennedy, will be screened at 7 p.m. in Conference Room 4.  The film follows the lives of five people living with AIDS in India, Russia, Thailand, Uganda and Brazil.  Filmmaker Rory Kennedy will make opening remarks.  The Deputy Secretary-General is expected to attend.  Produced by Moxie Firecracker Films and presented by HBO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the film will be broadcast on HBO in the spring of 2003.


The exhibit, film and education packet are elements of a multimedia campaign developed by Moxie Firecracker Films and Umbrage Editions to raise awareness of the global AIDS crisis through cultural and educational projects.  The exhibit opening and film screening are co-sponsored by DPI, UNAIDS, HBO, the AOL Time

Warner Foundation, the M*A*C AIDS Fund, M*A*C Cosmetics and the International AIDS Trust.


World AIDS Day was established on 1 December 1988 by the World Health Organization (WHO), and its annual observance was mandated by General Assembly resolution A/43/15.  Since its establishment in 1996, UNAIDS has expanded the single day’s observance into a year-long World AIDS Campaign, with World AIDS Day as a focal point.


For more information, please call (212) 963-6923 or (212) 963-7346; for media accreditation, (212) 963-6934; for United Nations television coverage,

(212) 963-7650.


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For information media. Not an official record.