Update

Tunisia commits to take a leadership role in the response to AIDS in the region

20 June 2014

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé commended Tunisia for its leadership role in the AIDS response in the Middle East and North Africa region during his meeting with President Moncef Marzouki on 20 June in Tunis, Tunisia. Mr Sidibé also congratulated the country for its selection to host the 18th International Conference on HIV/AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) in 2015.

President Marzouki placed Tunisia among the pioneer countries to ratify the Arab Convention on HIV Prevention and Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV—adopted in March 2012 by the Arab Parliament—and promised to push for AIDS to remain on the post-2015 development agenda. At the end of the meeting, President Marzouki signed the Protect the Goal ball, pledging his commitment to raise global awareness of HIV.

During his three-day visit to the country, Mr Sidibé also met with representatives of civil society and affected communities, the Vice-President of the National Constituent Assembly, Mehersia Labadi, the Minister of Health, Mohamed Salah Ben Ammar, the Minister of Finance, Hakim Ben Hamouda, and Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank.

In discussions with community leaders, Mr Sidibé stressed the important role of civil society in advocating for a rights-based approach in the AIDS response and the need for governments to engage them more in the political dialogue. He also emphasized the urgent need for legislative reform and a public health approach towards people who use drugs, to avoid criminalization and ensure access to HIV services.

Mr Sidibé also reiterated the importance of domestic funding to ensure a sustainable response to the epidemic, while stressing the need to establish a concrete investment plan that focuses resources where they are most needed.

Quotes

“The signing of the Protect the Goal ball marks a new movement to ensure that no one is left behind in the AIDS response. UNAIDS is committed to supporting Tunisia effort towards ending the epidemic.”

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé

Quotes

"Strong governments should not be afraid of strong civil society".

Elie Aaraj, President, Regional/Arab Network Against AIDS (RANAA) and Director of the Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA)

Quotes

"Every key population is the key solution. We don’t work for the community, but with it and under its leadership."

Johnny Tahoma, Executive Director of the M Coalition, the first regional network of men who have sex with men

Quotes

"Advocacy and awareness raising with parents and young people to protect themselves is needed to curb the HIV epidemic among our youths."

Vice-President of the National Constituent Assembly, Meherzia Labidi