Reportaje

UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, Her Serene Highness Princess Stephanie of Monaco visits the frontline of the HIV epidemic in South Africa

14 December 2009

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UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, Her Serene Highness, Princess Stephanie of Monaco meets with community organizations and partners in South Africa, December 2009.
Credit: F. Nebinger 

Visiting South Africa for the first time in her role as a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, Her Serene Highness, Princess Stephanie of Monaco met with community organizations and partners at the forefront of South Africa’s response to the HIV epidemic. South Africa has one of the largest HIV epidemics, with an estimated 5.7 million people living with HIV.

I am touched to see that people living with HIV in South Africa are getting access to the prevention and treatment services that enable them to live with hope and dignity.

Her Serene Highness, Princess Stephanie of Monaco

“I am touched to see that people living with HIV in South Africa are getting access to the prevention and treatment services that enable them to live with hope and dignity,” said Princess Stephanie.

During her visit, Princess Stephanie met with the UNAIDS Executive Director Mr. Michel Sidibé who was in South Africa to address a meeting of African Jurists on HIV and the Law. The Princess shared with Mr. Sidibe on her vivid impressions of her country visit and her experience of interacting with civil society organizations and people living with HIV in the South African townships.

“Princess Stephanie’s support for people living with HIV is a testament to her commitment to the AIDS responce" said Mr. Sidibé. “UNAIDS is honoured to have Princess Stephanie as our Goodwill Ambassador.”

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UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, Her Serene Highness, Princess Stephanie of Monaco and UNAIDS Executive Director Mr. Michel Sidibé, in South Africa. December 2009.
Credit: N. Saussier-FAM

On her arrival, the Consulate of Monaco and UNAIDS hosted a reception for the Princess with organizations of people living with HIV. The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Dr. Agostinho Zacarias welcomed the Princess to South Africa and said that her high profile visit will increase the visibility of South Africa’s progress in response to the epidemic. He added that the United Nations is inspired by the commitment of the Princess to support people living with HIV, an example which will be used to strengthen UN Plus in South Africa, the UN group for staff living with HIV.

Vuyiseka Dubula, General Secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign explained to the Princess that organizations in South Africa are working hard to ensure that South Africa’s Constitution, which protects and promotes the human rights of people living with HIV, is translated into action at the local level. Ms. Dubula participated in the conference for people living with HIV in Monaco organized by Princess Stephanie in 2008.

Princess Stephanie’s support for people living with HIV is a testament to her commitment to the AIDS response.

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

Princess Stephanie visited inner city Hillbrow and the townships of Alexandra and Kliptown, all of which are facing the challenges of high levels of unemployment and poor access to basic health services coupled with high HIV prevalence.

During the visit to the civil society group Friends for Life in Alexandra township, Princess Stephanie met with children living with HIV who have lost their parents to AIDS and are now receiving treatment, care and support.

In the Kliptown Township in Soweto, Princess Stephanie was hosted by the community organization Persevere Until Something Happens (PUSH), an AIDS Consortium affiliate. The AIDS Consortium supports a 1000-strong affiliate network of AIDS Service Organizations and individuals providing training, advocacy, libraries, cyber cafés that is building AIDS competent communities across South Africa.

She also visited the Reproductive Health and Research Unit (RHRU), an acclaimed research unit of the University of Witwatersrand and a World Health Organization collaborating centre. She also visited the Hillbrow Health Precinct, including a tour of the ARV clinic, one of South Africa’s largest ARV provision programmes with more than 6000 patients on antiretroviral treatment.

During a visit to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Princess Stephanie met with Ms. Graça Machel, wife of former President Mandela.

Her Serene Highness Princess Stephanie of Monaco has served as Goodwill Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) since October 2006. She is well known for her passionate engagement in AIDS issues, and has served as President of Fight AIDS Monaco since 2004. Fight AIDS Monaco offers information, HIV prevention and support to people living with and affected by HIV.