Commemorating World AIDS Day

 

23064853549_54d7e743f4_b

To commemorate World AIDS Day, various NGOs discussed the significance of civil society’s role in responding to gloabl HIV/ AIDS. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) cannot be eradicated without vaccines, and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) develops in some people after exposure to HIV. People living with HIV can avoid developing AIDS if they are tested and receive treatment early. Dr. Padmini Murthy, global health director/ professor at New York Medical College, considered AIDS as an issue of gender equality. Women are more prone to AIDS due to biological makeup. Getting tested is a high-priority following unprotected sex, or in cases of sexual assault. According to Dr. Murthy, women are less likely to be proactive in obtaining and initiating condom use during intercourse due to societal gender roles in heterosexual encounters. She sighted education and empowerment as key factors in discontinuing this pattern. Simon Bland, director of the UN AIDS office of New York, tested the audience’s knowledge on statistics surrounding HIV/AIDS. Currently, 37 million people live globally with AIDS. The majority of new HIV infections are in young women having heterosexual sex. Only 60% of individuals living with HIV are aware of their positive status.

Eric Sawyer, co- founder of ACT UP and the Housing Works and Health Gap organization, discussed initial responses to AIDS in 1981. There were extreme stigmas. Fear and neglect of diagnosed individuals made living with HIV/AIDS that much more frightening and isolating. Many who tested positive were fired, evicted, and shunned. Only two funeral homes in New York City were willing to embalm HIV positive bodies. However, 35 years later, Deborah Levine, executive director of Love Heals, happily announced that last year no child was born HIV positive in NYC. Molly McHugh, Communications Director of Grassroots Soccer (GRS), stated that GRS offers support to HIV positive youth by referring them to treatment and providing them with safe and supportive spaces.

Meeting: Briefing on “HIV and AIDS: How can civil society revitalize the response?” (on the occasion of the World AIDS Day) (organized by the NGO Relations, NGO Relations and Advocacy, and Special Events Section, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information (DPI))

Date/ Time/Location: Thursday, 1 December 2016; 13:15 to 14:30; United Nations Headquarters, Trusteeship Council Chamber

Speakers: Dr. Padmini Murthy, Global Health Director/Professor at New York Medical College and NGO representative; Simon Bland, Director of UN AIDS office of NY; Eric Sawyer, Co- Founder of ACT UP and Housing Works and Health Gap; Deborah Levine, Executive Director of Love Heals; Molly McHugh, Communications Director of Grassroots Soccer

Written By: Donna Sunny, WIT Representative

“We Will Stand Against Discrimination”

whitehead-link-alternative-sexuality-symbol-svg

 

In its 53rd and 54th meetings on November 21st, the Third Committee discussed actions on six draft resolutions: advancement of women; report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees, and displaced persons and humanitarian questions; report of the Human Rights Council; right of peoples to self-determination; promotion and protection of human rights, human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms; and crime prevention and criminal justice. The Committee passed all draft resolutions, with some needing revisions.

Holy See, Slovakia, the United States, and South Africa were among countries that approved the draft resolutions discussed. It was agreed that stigmas affecting pregnant women and children must end and that education is the best form of HIV/AIDS prevention. Additionally, the United Nations needs to use human rights based approaches regarding people with HIV/AIDS and their individuals struggles. Throughout the meeting, representatives emphasized discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in the form of gender identity and sexual orientation based violence that afflict non-cisgendered and non-heterosexual individuals globally. Several delegates claimed global campaigns and empowerment practices were only a few of the necessary approaches for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community to exercise and enjoy their full human rights.

Countries opposing some resolutions included the Russian Federation, Mexico, and Singapore. The Representative of  the Russian Federation argued that as a unique United Nations body with universal representation, the Third Committee must respect the disparate views of various countries. The Representative of Singapore agreed and added that delegations have the right to express the needs of their countries in the context of their cultures. H.E. Ambassador of Mexico stated that it is impossible to find a universal definition regarding this issue within the Committee.

Meeting: Third Committee, 53rd/54th Meetings (AM/PM), 71th General Assembly

Date/Time/Location: Monday, 21 November 2016; 10:00 to 13:00, 15:00; United Nations Headquarters

Speakers: Committee Secretary; Representative of the Holy See; Representative of Slovakia; Representative of Norway; Representative of Jamaica; Representative of Iceland; Representative of Senegal; Representative of Malaysia; Representative of Chile; Representative of Israel; Representative of Liechtenstein; Representative of the United Kingdom; Representative of Nauru; Representative of Uganda; Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania; Representative of South Africa; Representative of Spain; Representative of Argentina; Representative of Papua New Guinea; Representative of India; H.E. Ambassador of Botswana; Representative of South Africa; Representative of Yemen; Representative Russian Federation; Representative of Thailand; Representative of Congo; Representative of Singapore; Representative of Japan; Permanent Representative of Egypt; Representative of Brazil; Representative of the United States; H.E. Ambassador of the Republic of Korea; H.E. Ambassador of Mexico

Written By: Janet Lee, WIT Representative

 

Lessons from AIDS to emerging epidemic held by the UNAIDS

The meeting began by the moderator’s opening remark on questioning the current HIV progress, a great success or a failure. Dr. Ren Minghui replied by acknowledging the advanced treatment facilities and policy framework gave rise to the elimination of maternal AIDS transmission in 4 countries. He was deliberately optimistic about the up-to-now achievements, yet perseverance work in ending AIDS was essential. Apart from that, Prof. Marie added with recognizing both of the contextual and biological vulnerability that accounted the stagnant progress in HIV incidence, among key groups, had limited access to package intervention.

20160609_global-health-emergencies_01

Side-event: Addressing global health emergencies: lessons from AIDS to Ebola, Zika & other emerging epidemics; held at UNHQ, New York, on June 9, 2016.

Regarding the need of vaccine on every epidemic situation, Dr. Berkley admitted the existing intellectual challenge was an inadequate monetary incentive for the massive vaccine manufacture. He stated there were effective vaccine trials available for various epidemic disease, but its application depended on the severity, urgency, and affordability of the affected region. In addition, Mr. Cone also underscored the limited access to clinics lowered one’s incentive on having diagnosis, receiving treatment, where the causes could be mandatory destroy on health-care facilities or geographically unreachable. The two emphasized the use of vaccine required the right priorities with good approaches.

On the other hand, Msgr. Vitillo addressed the role of church in combating epidemics, where churches could function as good as clinics. He reasserted the significance of education on changing one’s cultural attitude along with understanding and respect to culture, in order to wipe out the stigma and discrimination. Besides, Mr. Conteh expressed his concern that message delivery and community engagement were useful to stop epidemics. He ended by sharing the lesson from Ebola outbreak that the strategy of decentralization, where he believed, was valuable and should be applied during the epidemics.

Meeting: Side event on Addressing global health emergencies: Lessons from AIDS to emerging epidemic held by the UNAIDS

Date/Time/Location: Thursday, June 08, 2016; 18:30-20:30; Conference Room 3

Speakers: Mr. Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS; Ms. Laurie Garrett, the Moderator Council on Foreign Relations (USA); Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI; Mr. Jason Cone, Executive Director for Doctors Without Borders; Prof. Marie Laga, Institute of Tropical Medicine; Mr. Alfred Palo Conteh, Minister of Internal Affairs (Sierra Leone); Dr. Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Disease; Ms.Alessandra Nilo, Executive Director for Gestos (Brazil); Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis Special Advisor on Health and HIV

Written By: WIT Representative, Kelvin HO

Edited By: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

100th plenary meeting on Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment and the political declarations on HIV/AIDS held by the General Assembly

KUX4yn--

The meeting was operated for countries to declare their commitment against AIDS as well as implement political declarations. The President began with the opening remarks on addressing the above importance. Soon after, Mr. Sey revealed the key to preventing AIDS was to monitor the HIV transmission together with maintaining economic growth, where prosperity could alleviate poverty, with fewer women getting HIV. In addition, Prof. Randrianarimanana stated AIDS could be eradicated by focusing on high impact intervention, effective decentralization, and strengthening the health-care system. He admitted the epidemic was still existed, even if the current prevalence was low.

On the other hand, Dr. Numbi recalled the dedication on the previous declaration cheered the international commitment, technical and financial partners with a multisector approach to combat AIDS. Meanwhile, Dr. Al-Jasser added with a compliment on the comprehensive national program, safeguarding the access on treatment, had enhanced the community responsibility, cooperation and civil societies’ engagement. Moreover, Mr. Hamach reminded the stigma and discrimination would implicitly harm the Universal Health Coverage program where social restructuring was demanding. He ended his speech by reiterating political leadership and devotion to international community were vital to the Fast-Track to ending AIDS. Then, Ms. Skogen appealed to all members, to provide funding to high-burden and developing countries on quality education, sexual education, reproductive services along with well-trained health-care workers.

Last but not least, the above speakers declared their unceasing allegiance to combating AIDS financially or putting efforts on regulation compliance, demanding stronger prevention of AIDS.

Meeting: 100th plenary meeting on Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment and the political declarations on HIV/AIDS held by the General Assembly

Date/Time/Location: Thursday, June 08, 2016; 15:00-18:00; General Assembly Hall

Speakers: His Excellency, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the General Assembly; His Excellency, Mr. Omar Sey, the Minister of Health & Social Welfare of Gambia; His Excellency, Prof. Dieudonné Randrianarimanana, the Minister of Health, Family Planning and Social Protection of Madagascar; His Excellency, Dr. Félix Kabange Numbi, The DRC Minister of Public Health; His Excellency, Dr. Sulaiman bin Mohammed Al-Jasser, the Minister of Economy and Planning of Saudi Arabia; His Excellency, Mr. Masakazu Hamach, the Parliamentary Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Japan; Her Excellency, Ms. Tone Skogen, the State Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway

Written By: WIT Representative, Kelvin HO

Edited By: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

Photo: https://twitter.com/unaids

Delivering an AIDS-free Generation

Whoopi_Goldberg_UN_Ambassadorjpg

Today’s afternoon meeting held by the UNAIDS council presented a panel of well renowned HIV/AIDS activists, expressing their plea for the continued support of the UNAIDS program in order to one day have an AIDS-free society. The President of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, began by praising UNAIDS’ commitment in acting swiftly and their intensified efforts to end HIV transmission. Five years since the UN has joined forces in the global fight to end child transmission of AIDS, significant progress has been made. Noted, was the fact that since inception, 33% of pregnant women now have access to treatment that allows them to stop AIDS from transferring to their newborns. Speakers addressed that an AIDS-free generation requires much more action that is aligned with Agenda 2030. Transmission rates must decrease significantly between mothers and their children by scaling up treatment for the mothers. Work on the ground, directly with the affected population and promotion of access to treatment and funding to countries that are overwhelmed by the epidemic need to be considered.

The Executive director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, then took the stand and thanked all the countries that are joining the UNAIDS mission to eliminate children born with AIDS. He mentioned that stigma is still one of the biggest challenges behind the fight against HIV/AIDS and that member states must all partner up to stop it. A video was shown of the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya thanking the 21 Sub-Saharan African countries for their unwavering support and partnership. It was mentioned that the only 100% effective way to stop the transmission of AIDS from mother to child is to target adolescent girls and ensure their prevention from getting infected. The meeting ended with the General Assembly President thanking all who participated and showed.

Meeting: Delivering an AIDS-free Generation

Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, June 8, 2016; 13:15-14:45; Conference Room 3

Speakers: Ms. Whoopie Goldberg, Host of the View; Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of UN General Assembly and Ambassador of Denmark; Mr. Michel Sidibé, Executive director of UNAIDS; Mr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health in South Africa, Monica Geingos, First Lady of the Republic of Namibia; Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF; Annie Lenox, acclaimed singer and songwriter and founder of SING; Deborah Birx, Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to combat HIV/AIDS; Piyasakol Sakolsataydorn, Minister of Public Health of the Kingdom of Thailand

Written by: WIT representative, Amirali Agha-Khan

Edited by: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

Voices of Women, Children and Youth with Disabilities at the UN

HRWThe moderator, Nancy Maguire started the panel discussion by highlighting the importance to acknowledge that the ‘disability’ group is not like one homogenous group and is subject to different perspectives and experiences on the basis of where they are from.

Ambrose Murangira, then shared his personal experience in Uganda. He highlighted the discriminatory practices from childhood to the community level; and faced these challenges by performing, cooperating with his friends and leading his cause. Teachers are also very important in influencing young people. Apart from disability organizations, it is important that all people take the responsibility of ensuring that the disabled community gets their rights. The post 2015 agenda in his opinion, would give this cause the right platform to be heard.

Andrea Mazzarino shared her research on children with disabilities in Russian and Japanese state orphanages. In the case of Russia, the children are abandoned by the sate. According to UNICEF at least, 305,000 children lived in Russian orphanages, which is 2-5% of Russia ‘s total child population. The children with disabilities are victims of violence, neglect and isolation in Russian orphanages. Although a vast majority of these children have one living parent, due to the doctors stating that the children will never be able to develop like normal children under immense pressure from the society, those parents give up their children. In the case of Japan, 25% of 39000 Japanese children live in state institutions; group homes for independent living and foster care have a disability. The lack of inclusion in the educational system has severed consequences in the overall development of these children.  She recommended, that these children should be provided adequate support from communities, parents and foster parents, collectively and to create independent mechanism to ensure institutionalization is used as the only resort.

Finally Rashmi Chopra, shared her research and study on women and girls with disabilities. Women with disabilities are profoundly vulnerable to abuse and often their choices are not heard and abuses remain hidden. The social stigma and exclusion impacts their multiple rights such as health education and a family life. Chopra highlighted the stories of three women from Zambia and India, respectively. Mary and Charity from Zambia were both victims of HIV AIDS and rape. They were abused by their husbands and got limited schooling. Rekha from India suffered from an intellectual disability. Her mother, without any consent and knowledge from Rekha, sterilized her, to protect her from sexual violence. These cases represent the vulnerability of disabled women and girls to abuse and violence.

Meeting Title: Voices of Women, Children and Youth with Disabilities: from Uganda, Zambia, India, Japan and Russia
Speakers: Nancy Maguire, UNICEF Global Youth Council Member; Ambrose Murangira, Executive director, Uganda National Association of the Deaf; Andréa Mazzarino, ACLS Public Fellow, Europe & Central Asia Division, Human Rights Watch; Rashmi Chopra, Fellow, Disability Rights Division, Human Rights Watch.
Date: 11 June 2014
Location: Conference room 5, United Nations Headquarters, New York.
Written by WIT Representative– Aslesha Kaur Dhillon