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"Art for AIDS" Receives Keith Haring Sculptures

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Ahead of World AIDS Day 2008Ahead of World AIDS Day 2008
Ahead of World AIDS Day 2008, two sculptures by Keith Haring have come to UNAIDS to join the “Art for AIDS” collection. His iconic and poignant work has been instrumental in raising awareness around AIDS issues worldwide.

The UNAIDS headquarters building in Geneva received on Wednesday two new additions to its “ART for AIDS” collection. The artworks are two sculptures by the celebrated artist and AIDS activist Keith Haring which have been loaned to UNAIDS by the Keith Haring Foundation.

In his all–too–brief lifetime, Keith Haring (1958–1990) produced artwork at a prodigious rate and reached a worldwide audience that transcended differences of race, nationality, gender, age, and sexual orientation. He used his now iconic symbols– the barking dog, radiant baby, dancing person and the heart–to encourage reflection on and dialogue about social and political issues.

The humanist elements of his work allowed him to communicate on virtually universal terms. As a result, Haring used his designs for many public and social awareness campaigns, including AIDS prevention, literacy, UNICEF children’s causes, and the fight against South African apartheid.

Haring enlisted his imagery during the last years of his lifeHaring enlisted his imagery during the last years of his life
Haring was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. In 1989, he established the Keith Haring Foundation, whose mandate is to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programmes, and to expand the audience for Haring’s work through exhibitions, publications and the licensing of his images. Haring enlisted his imagery during the last years of his life to speak about his own illness and generate activism and awareness about AIDS.

Although his art had always reflected his social consciousness, in Haring’s last years many of his works were devoted to creating cultural awareness about HIV and gay rights issues.

The UNAIDS’ Art for AIDS is an art collection created to recognize the role art has played in the response to AIDS. The pieces in the collection have been chosen to provoke thought and dialogue around some of the most difficult issues around AIDS. With an initial emphasis on contemporary African art, the collection has grown to more than 60 museum quality pieces thanks to the involvement of artists, collectors and donors around the world.


On the record: Interview with Dr Peter Piot, founding Executive Director of UNAIDS

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Photo:UNAIDS/ GirardinPhoto:UNAIDS/ Girardin
At the end of 2008, Dr Peter Piot, the founding Executive Director of UNAIDS, will leave his post after leading the organization since his appointment in 1994. He reflected on past milestones and future challenges in an interview with John Donnelly:

How are you feeling on the eve of your departure?
Peter Piot: I thought my last couple of months would be pretty quiet. (Laughs) I underestimated that a bit. But my main objective has been to secure our funding for next year. That is always a challenge.

When you look back on your time at UNAIDS, what do you consider the three biggest breakthroughs?
PP: The first one came in 1996, when treatment was discovered and became available, and equally important to that was the major reduction in the price of antiretrovirals later. They are both very important milestones.

The second one was the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS in 2001. That was a turning point. After that, the Global Fund (to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) was created; presidents and prime ministers took charge of the response in many countries; AIDS made it to the top of the agenda in the world. It was no longer just an issue for ministers of health. It was discussed in places where you discuss the really big issues.

And the third thing, I guess, is that the fact that the money we spent last year on AIDS reached US$ 10 billion. It’s a formidable resource mobilization. A really important part of that is the major role of people living with HIV. Money is the result of the combination of this activism and the political work symbolized in the General Assembly session.

Can you describe a moment when you received epidemiological data that scared you?
PP: Many of them. My most recent experience was when I saw the data recently on the rise in HIV in the gay populations in Asia. It was exactly what we saw in the West in the early 1980s. I saw the same thing with injecting drug users in Eastern Europe about 10 years ago. And when I was working in central Africa, in then Zaire, in the mid-1980s, South Africa had less than 2% prevalence. Then, a few years later, you saw it skyrocketing, and say, ‘Wow. That’s unbelievable.’ There have been many moments like this. It’s something that I think we should bear in mind when we think of the future of this epidemic. The virus will continue to surprise us. That’s why I’m very sceptical when people say about Asia, ‘Oh, it will be limited to concentrated populations.’ Maybe, maybe not. We don’t know.

Has the fight against AIDS strengthened or weakened health systems?
PP: There’s absolutely no evidence that I’ve seen that it undermines health services. If anything, it certainly strengthened certain services, such as laboratories. Determined governments will make sure that disease specific funding is used to strengthen local capacity. The AIDS epidemic itself has overburdened health systems. It also for the first time has brought money to strengthen the health workforce in, say, Malawi where they even built health clinics with AIDS funds. Ethiopia is another example. They have a strong government and a strong minister of health. He has been using AIDS funds to build rural health clinics. But let’s also not forget that if we had waited until the health services were fixed before introducing antiretroviral therapy, as so many suggested, we would still be nowhere on ART and millions would have died.

What concerns you most about the response to the epidemic today?
PP: What really concerns me is that while we’ve made measurable progress on access to treatment, we don’t have the same impact when it comes to HIV prevention. Is it because we need more time, or are we not on the right track? I personally think more and more that we need to be working with the professionals who do the marketing for branding businesses, who know how to influence people’s behaviors. HIV prevention is what will require the extra shot in the arm.

You’ve identified a US$ 10 billion annual shortfall in the fight against AIDS. What’s your best argument to increase funding?
PP: The number one argument is that funding for AIDS works, is saving lives, and has shown high return on investments. The needs are there. Just take treatment–close to 4 million are now on antiretrovirals today, but still about 8 million need it. Also, we are so far better equipped to spend the money before. Initially, systems had to be developed, labs established, people trained. Delivering the goods is now cheaper because we have made the initial investments.

How could the global financial crisis affect programmes?
Photo:UNAIDS/ GirardinPhoto:UNAIDS/ Girardin
PP: If there’s a decline in funding, the return on the investment will be much less. Postponing action just increases the bill later on. I worry now that governments will cut the social sector

first. That is often the experience in economic downturns. In Japan, after their financial crisis in 1990, they cut development assistance by 60%. And without ODA, without The Global Fund, the

heavily AIDS–affected and poorest countries won’t be able to run their AIDS programmes.

In developing countries, governments may have less income. They may have fewer remittances, less private direct investments. That means more people will be vulnerable, and could lead to an increase in sex work. We don’t know this will happen. But it’s something I’m very concerned about.

You often describe yourself as an activist. What is your grade for activists over the past several years? Where have they succeeded? Failed?
PP: I think activists have been hugely successful in terms of treatment, advocacy, and mobilizing funds, particularly for The Global Fund. That’s a top grade. But as for activists working for prevention,

well, Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa is doing it, but they are an exception.

How do you take politics out of the prevention debates?
PP: It’s not possible–and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s about fundamental choices in society and life. Thinking that we could have a society that is completely rational about these 12 things is an illusion and may not be good. You need to have a set of values and principles guiding policies, and then you automatically get into politics with AIDS. The key is to make sure it is good politics, the politics where as much as possible that if there is scientific evidence, that evidence is used to save lives. There are still countries where harm reduction in working with drug users is against the law. That’s bad politics.

What’s going to be especially hard in prevention work ahead?
PP: In Asia and Eastern Europe, we have to start looking beyond sex workers and drug users, and how it could make inroads in the general population. And secondly, in an increasing number of eastern and southern African countries, up to half of all infections are occurring in stable couples. How do we deal with that? That calls for a revision in our approaches. In addition we need help from business to professionalize HIV prevention.

What will be the role of the modes of transmission studies that show where the new infections are likely to occur?
PP: They should be very helpful because we don’t always know what is going on. We may be basing our prevention work on where the epidemic was five years ago. It may have changed, or may not have changed. My concern is not only that we have good studies, but the studies are used. In Lesotho, similar studies led to changes. In Thailand, they are trying to change the prevention approach based on new information, and in China, the studies are drawing attention to homosexual men. Most difficult will be in countries with generalized epidemics–how to interpret the information. If HIV is in married or stable couples, boy, that’s quite a lot of people, and how do you do that?

In your speech at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, you quoted Bob Marley’s lyrics,“Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight”. Then you said, “That’s what I will do. What will you do?”
PP: I don’t know yet. I’ll be in an academic position at Imperial College in London, United Kingdom, and will continue some work in AIDS, but as a citizen and member of the community.

I need some time now to work on my next life. But I definitely want to work across disciplines. Like Bob Marley said, ‘We’ve got a mind of our own’”.


UNAIDS launches "AIDS Outlook"

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Disclaimer: The news story on this page is the copyright of the cited publication. This has been reproduced here for visitors to review, comment on and discuss. This is in keeping with the principle of ‘fair dealing’ or ‘fair use’. Visitors may click on the publication name, in the news story, to visit the original article as it appears on the publication’s website.

AIDS Outlook is a new report from UNAIDSAIDS Outlook is a new report from UNAIDS
AIDS Outlook is a new report from UNAIDS that provides perspectives on some of the most pressing issues that will confront policymakers and leaders as they respond to the challenges presented by AIDS in 2009. In many ways the year ahead will be a year of transition–and acceleration. Many countries are reviewing their national strategies on AIDS. Even though political commitment for AIDS is at an all–time high, recent developments in the financial world will test the resilience of many.

This report is an opportunity for reflection. Reflection on what it has been possible to achieve with leadership as well as for refocusing on some key areas that are impeding progress. It is not a “How to manual” or a “Policy statement”, but provides insights based on evidence on new ways to build on and improve the AIDS response.

The report begins by highlighting some recent achievements and challenges in addressing HIV. It provides examples of how countries are applying modelling techniques to better understand HIV incidence, with the aim of reinvigorating HIV prevention. AIDS Outlook concludes with an introduction to combination HIV prevention and its application.

AIDS Outlook relies upon both estimates of HIV prevalence and impact from data collected from around the world–as well as perspectives from those responding to AIDS in countries and communities. Joining data with instrumental voices will help to identify the debates needed and decisions required for countries as they plan their future strategies.

The report also includes an interview with UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot where, on the eve of his departure after 14 years as head of the organization, he reflects on past milestones and future challenges of the AIDS epidemic.


Police in India Commit to Support Community AIDS Responses

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Disclaimer: The news story on this page is the copyright of the cited publication. This has been reproduced here for visitors to review, comment on and discuss. This is in keeping with the principle of ‘fair dealing’ or ‘fair use’. Visitors may click on the publication name, in the news story, to visit the original article as it appears on the publication’s website.

Police in India commit to support community AIDS responses
UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot is visiting India this week. Thanks to government leadership, enhanced cooperation between civil society and the police could make a difference in communities across India.

A group of police and paramilitary personnel and representatives from State AIDS Control Societies and civil societiesA group of police and paramilitary personnel and representatives from State AIDS Control Societies and civil societies
Although adult HIV prevalence rate in India is low at 0.3%, still an estimated 2.4 million people are living with HIV in this the second most populous country in the world. Those most at risk of contracting the virus are people who engage in certain behaviours including buying and selling sex, injecting drugs and men who have sex with men. A complex range of social issues means they can be the people hardest to reach in society.

As they may also be criminalized by the legal system, their paths often cross with the police. This contact presents a unique opportunity for the police to act as facilitators for the provision of HIV related services to people most–at–risk.

Safer sex and drug injecting
Safer sexual and injecting practices are vital for the successful control of the HIV epidemic in India. Most HIV outreach for marginalized people is led by non–governmental (NGOs) and community based organizations. Traditionally, the police force did not work formally with civil society in India, although there have been excellent examples of police men and women coordinating with NGOs but this was on an ad hoc and personal basis.

Through successful advocacy, UNAIDS in India has proposed to the Ministry of Home Affairs to consider the value of enhancing cooperation and proactive support between the police and the agencies working with people at higher risk of HIV. With support from the police, the protection of community workers, their outreach and successful implementation of measures like Condom distribution and needle exchange programmes are more assured.

In December 2007 the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an official order to all Directors General of Police to designate a Nodal officer for NGO Coordination at the state and district level. This officer is specifically tasked with engaging more closely with NGOs.

This has already been fully implemented across India in all twenty-eight states and seven Union Territories and is already seen as a major contribution to National HIV programming. By engaging with the issue of HIV and supporting prevention initiatives as part of their regular work, the police will automatically get sensitized for their own protection from the risk of HIV infection.

Nodal officers in charge of NGO coordinationNodal officers in charge of NGO coordination
“The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has shown an extraordinary commitment to respond to HIV by introducing this unique intervention. At almost no cost, this ensures long term coordination between police and civil society in an institutionalized manner for supporting communities with prevention, treatment, care and support services and in achieving the targets of universal access,” said Mr Ranjan Dwivedi, Technical Advisor, Uniformed services and Civil Society partnerships, UNAIDS India.

This intervention by the Ministry removes the administrative cost of setting up initiatives by officers locally. As well as demonstrating the positive contribution of the police, community groups hope the measure will go a long way in assisting NGOs, not only in HIV prevention, but in other social programmes such as in the response to child abuse and violence against women.

Beyond law enforcement to proactive community support
Recently the Ministry of Home Affairs, in partnership with UNAIDS, organized four regional conferences for the newly identified nodal officers for NGO Coordination who would facilitate in rolling out of the strategy for HIV programming for uniformed services in all states. The events were an opportunity to sensitize the state police leadership as well as representatives from health departments and State AIDS control societies to plan HIV prevention initiatives in police departments together through new strategies evolved by the Ministry Of Home Affairs.

The role of the police to proactively support agencies working with most–at–risk populations was underlined, as well as their sensitive role in HIV prevention among people who buy and sell sex, inject drugs or men who have sex with other men.

Enhancing relations with the police
The community based organizations present emphasized the importance of police support in their local outreach efforts.

Kusum Jain from Gram Bharati Samiti (GBS), an NGO in Rajasthan, works closely with Rajput tribal community who by tradition practice sex work. When her organization first began to interact with the community they were chased with dogs as the people thought they had come to stop their business. With help from the local police, GBS workers over the years have built up the trust of the community who now see their only aim is to make them aware of HIV prevention that now they can work closely together.

Ms Jain believes that formalizing the role of the police in community support has enhanced their relations with the police, helping the police to be accessible and provide proactive support to agencies working on HIV prevention among most at risk populations.

A recent Asia Commission report concluded there is a vital need for political engagement and support to drive an effective AIDS response. Through this new initiative with the police, the Indian government is demonstrating such leadership.


Saavdhaan - It's a Battle Against AIDS

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Release of short film “Saavdhaan- It's a battle against AIDSSaavdhaan- It's a battle against AIDS

The film “Saavdhaan- It’s a battle against AIDS” is produced by UNAIDS in partnership with BSF to spread awareness about HIV prevention among uniformed personnel and their families. The film was released by the Hon’ble Union Home Minister, Mr. Shivraj Patil, on World AIDS Day 2007. The film highlights all relevant HIV prevention related messages, including removing stigma and discrimination. It also highlights the crucial yet less known fact that HIV positive parents, with due medication, can have HIV negative children and therefore motivates personnel to get themselves tested for HIV.

Besides Hindi, the film has been dubbed in eleven Indian languages – Asamese, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Kannada, Manipuri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Telegu and Tamil.

For copies of the film, please write to:
Sarita Jadav
A-2/35 Safdarjung Enclave
New Delhi
Tel +91 11 41354545
Fax +91 11 41354534
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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