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“Getting to zero”, World AIDS Day 2011 - 2011 is a landmark year

First, it marks the 30 year anniversary since the first case of AIDS was reported. 

Second, as highlighted by UNESCO’s Director-General, Ms. Irina Bokova, in her annual World AIDS Day message , there have been significant scientific advancements in this year alone. There is evidence that antiretroviral therapy does more than treat HIV, it also prevents HIV.  Recent studies show that early treatment of people living with HIV can reduce sexual transmission to their partners by up to 96 percent, and that giving antiretroviral therapy to the HIV-negative partners of those living with HIV can reduce their chances of acquiring HIV by up to 73 percent.  There is also further evidence that male circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV acquisition in men.

Third, governments have confirmed their commitments to “halting and reversing the spread of HIV”, Millennium Development Goal 6, including bold targets in the Political Declaration adopted at the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS.

Fourth, UNESCO has published its new Strategy for HIV and AIDS   which recommits UNESCO to the global goal of ensuring universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. As a founding member and Cosponsor of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), its goals are aligned to the UNAIDS Strategy for 2011-2015   and the global vision of Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination, Zero AIDS-related deaths.

In line with the above vision, the theme of World AIDS Day 2011 is ‘Getting to Zero.’ 

UNESCO is mobilized to ‘Get to Zero.’ Here are some examples of recent efforts: 

In the Philippines , UNESCO in collaboration with regional and national partners, recently trained 35 young people in strategic communication, advocacy and leadership to be effective contributors to the national AIDS response. 

In Cambodia , UNESCO and UNFPA are supporting the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to address the sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention needs of girls and women. 

In China , UNESCO is strengthening the delivery of sexuality education so that learners know how to protect their sexual and reproductive health. 

In Bangladesh , UNESCO recently conducted a study looking at the cultural and social factors that influence HIV transmission, and health-seeking behaviours related to HIV prevention, treatment and care among young people in Bangladesh

In India , UNESCO published a treatment education booklet in collaboration with Plan, to improve understanding of treatment among people living with HIV and their families.

In Nepal , UNESCO is mainstreaming HIV prevention into its literary programmes, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations, including the illiterate spouses of migrant workers. 

In the Pacific , UNESCO is undertaking an attitudinal survey on the delivery of HIV and AIDS Education in school settings to better understand the barriers to the effective delivery of school-based sexuality education. 
 To reach the vision of zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths, we must move as quickly as the AIDS virus does. This is essential to prevent new infections, to protect individuals, families and societies from the impact of the epidemic, and to advancing human rights and dignity for all. This is UNESCO’s pledge on this 2011 World AIDS Day.


For further information on World AIDS Day 2011: 

UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report (2011)  
The UN Secretary-General’s Message on World AIDS Day, 1 December 2011


Justine Sass 
 Regional HIV and AIDS Adviser for Asia and the Pacific
 Chief, HIV Prevention and Health Promotion Unit (HP2)
 Tel: 66 2 3910577 Ext. 113