Crown Princess Mette–Marit meets UNAIDS staff and UN positive group
25 April 2006
In her new role as UNAIDS Special Representative, the Crown Princess Mette-Marit made a special visit to UNAIDS secretariat in Geneva to find out more about the epidemic and to meet some of the people involved in the AIDS response. Her Royal Highness will focus particularly on issues of stigma and discrimination as well as reaching out to young people and people living with HIV.
“I am proud to be appointed UNAIDS Special Representative. UNAIDS plays an important role in coordinating the global effort to fight HIV and AIDS,” said the Crown Princess. “Making all powers pull in the same direction is vital in fighting such a complex issue. The UNAIDS staff is notably driven by deep dedication and strong sense of purpose.”
The Crown Princess met with UNAIDS staff of experts, including those living with HIV, and others from the UN System HIV positive Staff Group (UN+). During the meeting she praised the work the staff group is doing, “I am pleased to be with you here today and I believe you are showing leadership with your workplace initiatives at UNAIDS.”
UN+ was formed in 2005 by UN staff living with HIV to give a voice to issues affecting those living with HIV and working in the UN system. Members of the group explained to the Crown Princess the overall aims of UN+.
Goals include contributing to the development and improvement of existing policies on HIV and AIDS at the UN agency level and to create a more enabling environment of all HIV-positive staff members, irrespectively of the level of disclosure of their HIV status.
Her Royal Highness asked the UN+ members about challenges faced by HIV-positive staff when considering disclosing their status to colleagues. “Fear is a big issue for many staff,” explained Kevin Moody. “Fear of discrimination at work and fear of losing your job. We also face a number of other challenges including issues around health insurance and the respect for confidentiality in the workplace.”
The group also pointed out that mobility and travel restrictions imposed on HIV positive people by many countries was a real challenge to employees of international organizations who often needed to travel or relocate for work.
Members of UN+ encouraged the Crown Princess in her new role as UNAIDS Special Representative to remind governments to implement and commit the GIPA Principles (GIPA, Greater involvement of people living with HIV adopted at the Paris AIDS summit 1994). “We want to communicate the value added in the AIDS response when involving people living with HIV and we hope you can help us to ensure the international community takes the principles further,” said another member of the group.
The Crown Princess will attend the upcoming International AIDS conference in Toronto later this year. Among other activities she will seek to include the GIPA principles in her effort to meet the AIDS challenge.