TB/HIV, universal access, and human rights key items on UNAIDS Executive Director’s agenda in Brazil
23 March 2009
The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Mr Michel Sidibé, is in Brazil this week promoting greater awareness of the interlinked epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis, the need for universal access to HIV services for all people in need, and the necessity to address stigma and discrimination in Brazil’s response to HIV.
Earlier today in Rio de Janeiro, Mr Sidibé joined the international launch of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual report on global TB control.
Although it is mostly preventable and curable, tuberculosis (TB) is one of the leading causes of death among people living with HIV globally. Of the 33 million people who are living with HIV, only 20% of know their status, and only a tiny fraction, 2% in 2007, were screened for TB according to the Global TB Control 2009 report.
"Universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support must include TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment. When HIV and TB services are combined, they save lives."
Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS
“We have to stop people living with HIV from dying of tuberculosis,” said Mr Sidibé. “Universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support must include TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment. When HIV and TB services are combined, they save lives.”
The UNAIDS Executive Director was joined at the launch by the Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Dr Michel Kazatchkine, the Assistant Director-General of the HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases Department at WHO, Mr Hiroki Nakatani, the Director of the Stop TB Department, Dr Mario Raviglione, and the Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, Dr Marcos Espinal.
The report launch is part of World TB Day events taking place during the 3rd Stop TB Partners Forum, which opened in Rio de Janeiro on 23 March. Mr Sidibé will deliver an address at the Forum’s closing on 25 March.
Later in the week, Mr Sidibé will travel to Brasília where he will meet with senior Government of Brazil officials including the National Congress Parliamentary group on HIV and the ministers for foreign affairs, women’s policies, health, and human rights, respectively.
To amplify UNAIDS’ messages of standing with people living with and affected by HIV and stopping laws that block the AIDS response, Mr Sidibé will meet with several key civil society actors active in promoting HIV awareness, protecting human rights, and ending stigma and discrimination, especially for those most vulnerable to HIV. One meeting will bring together national level representatives of groups representing people living with HIV, youth, women, and lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders to discuss these issues within the national and local context.
In Rio de Janeiro, visits are planned to organizations providing vital services to children and young people. One such organization is Sociedade Viva Cazuza, a non-profit that supports children, young people and adults living with HIV through a broad range of services, from HIV counselling and testing to the administration of antiretroviral treatment under the auspices of Rio de Janeiro’s municipal health care system. Besides physical support, Sociedade Viva Cazuza also maintains a website where people can pose their HIV and other sexual health questions to experts.
In Latin America, Brazil has the region’s largest HIV epidemic, home to more than 40% (730,000) of people living with the virus, followed by Mexico with 200,000 HIV-positive people. But the country also benefits from a commitment to ensuring access to both HIV prevention and treatment services, which has helped keep its epidemic stable and halved AIDS mortality rates between 1996 and 2002.
On 30 March, Mr Sidibé will join the Brazilian Minister of Women’s Policies, Ms Nilcéa Freire, in inaugurating the first centre that focuses on rehabilitating men who abuse women. Located in Nova Iguaçu, a municipality in Rio de Janeiro, the centre will place emphasis on education programmes to put a stop to domestic violence. Ten other centres are planned for the country.
Mr Sidibe will conclude his official visit later that day by addressing delegates at the opening of the Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality.
This is Mr Sidibé’s first official visit to Brazil since becoming executive director of UNAIDS.