World AIDS Day at WHO

01 December - 2006 | Geneva - The commemoration of World AIDS Day is taking place at WHO offices across the world. In his World AIDS Day message, WHO Acting Director-General, Dr Anders Nordström, stresses that AIDS remains a pressing public health challenge, despite progress made.

The World AIDS Day message from the WHO Region for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) highlights the regional movement "Towards HIV prevention, treatment and care for all". The WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia (SEARO) urged the countries of the region to scale-up HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services in order to avert an escalating epidemic in many areas.

39.5 million people around the world are now living with HIV.

Today, the WHO HIV/AIDS Department is releasing five photo essays entitled "Towards Universal Access by 2010: African experiences", sharing stories of how patients, health workers, and decision-makers in countries are tackling some of the outstanding priorities in HIV/AIDS. The stories also bring to life the many challenges within health sectors which will need to be addressed as the international community moves towards universal access.

As part of the Day's events at Headquarters, HIV/AIDS information and counselling desks are being operated at lunchtime jointly by the HIV, HRH, CAH and HMS units, to provide staff with information on condoms, HIV testing, and parenting in the world with HIV.

WHO and UNAIDS staff are joining the international community in Geneva, in a partnership event in the afternoon in the main hall of the newly opened WHO/UNAIDS building.

Dr Anders Nordström and Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS are hosting the event with keynote speakers: Dr Mukesh Kapila, Special AIDS Representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Bhatupe Mhango, United Nations HIV Positive Staff Group.

The ceremony includes the lighting of candles, exhibits, music and information sharing. The partnership event will also be linked with a public event organized by the community and the city of Geneva to commemorate World AIDS Day 2006.