Youth and innovation shine on World AIDS Day in Algeria

01 December 2016

A dynamic AIDS response characterized by partnership and passion across all sectors, and prioritizing youth and innovation, was celebrated in Algeria on World AIDS Day.

At a lively World AIDS Day commemoration filled with colour and song held in Algiers, key actors in Algeria’s AIDS response came together to reflect on the county’s successes, consider ongoing challenges and emphasize commitment towards ending AIDS by 2030.

Reacting rapidly to the challenges of HIV, Algeria’s response has consistently prioritized cross-sectoral action, community involvement and evidence and innovation within its strategies and policies. Significant results include a sustained low-level epidemic and free provision of antiretroviral therapy for 90% of people living with HIV.

“Algeria has been a pioneer on AIDS in the region, and the response remains highly dynamic. Continued innovation—particularly through harnessing the power of the young, vibrant population—is maximizing gains made and contributing to broader development and rights outcomes,” said UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Jan Beagle, who welcomed Algeria as a new member of the UNAIDS governing body, the Programme Coordinating Board, from 2017.

To build on the gains made, Ms Beagle noted areas for increased focus, including: access to services for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; greater investment in programmes for key populations; and prioritization of women, girls and young people. “Sustained leadership, integration, evidence and rights-based and people-centred approaches that are adaptable at all stages in the life cycle are needed. Let us build on the progress made and continue to be passionate partners in Algeria’s collective efforts,” she said.

Emphasizing commitment to mobilize an accelerated response towards an AIDS-free generation, Ministry of Health Secretary-General Ali Rezgui said, “Young people are this country’s greatest asset. We must treasure them, listen to them and equip them with education, knowledge and tools to prevent HIV and drive forward Algeria’s AIDS movement.”

“Today we celebrate determination, perseverance and progress driven by a highly multisectoral, inclusive response. This model of joint action is critical for the achievement of the interconnected Sustainable Development Goals,” said Eric Overvest, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Algeria.

Commitment to continued collaboration and dynamism was evident through the active participation of young people at the World AIDS Day celebration. “It’s our dream to protect the world against HIV. With solidarity, prevention and knowledge, together we can end AIDS,” a group of schoolchildren sang loudly and clearly.

Middle East and North Africa: HIV lessons can guide development responses for young people and women

30 November 2016

At a regional forum focusing on optimizing the demographic dividend in the Middle East and North Africa, lessons learned from the AIDS response were emphasized as critical to guiding investment and efforts for development responses for young people and women.

Representatives of government, international organizations, civil society, the media and others joined together in Algiers, Algeria, for a two-day forum organized by the United Nations Population Fund, the League of Arab States and the Government of Algeria. The forum explored how economic growth, comprehensive education and health and social systems that put young people and women at the centre can result in lower maternal mortality, higher life expectancy and gains across the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Jan Beagle opened the forum, emphasizing that the experiences of the multisectoral, multistakeholder and inclusive AIDS response can be leveraged for wide-reaching results.

“By investing in girls and young women, boys and young men at the critical stages in their lives, and building coalitions across sectors, we can end AIDS by 2030 and contribute to broader health, development, rights and gender outcomes in the region,” Ms Beagle said.

Ms Beagle stressed the importance of prioritizing awareness-raising and education among young people, ensuring a specific focus on women and girls and increasing synergies between health and development responses, including for tuberculosis, human papillomavirus and hepatitis C.

To address stigma and discrimination in the region, which hampers access to services, legal and policy environments need to promote change and protect the vulnerable and to enable the effective implementation of laws and policies. “The laws on the books need to be mirrored by the laws on the streets,” Ms Beagle said.

Political commitment for the AIDS response is growing in the region, but challenges persist, including in terms of low treatment coverage, preventing mother-to-child-transmission of HIV and the increase in HIV infections in some communities. The renewed political commitment expressed at the forum can help to counter those challenges. 

Algeria leads push to end the AIDS epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa

15 January 2016

The Middle East and North Africa region is facing political and humanitarian crises that have destabilized the region and have had an impact on social and economic development in the most affected countries. However, despite setbacks in certain areas, health continues to be a priority. Algeria stands out as one of the countries in the region with the most advanced health responses, particularly to the AIDS epidemic.

During a visit to Algeria from 12 to 14 January, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé commended governments in the region for recently adopting the Algiers Declaration, an important tool for ending the AIDS epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa. One of the key components of the declaration calls for scaling up HIV testing and treatment services in the Middle East and North Africa, especially among vulnerable populations, mainly injecting drug users, men who have sex with men and sex workers. Currently, testing and treatment coverage are low in the region.

Speaking at the Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations, Mr Sidibé said, “If in the next five years 90% of people living with HIV know their status, the region will certainly manage to enable 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status to access life-saving treatment by 2020.” In his keynote speech, Mr Sidibé also recognized Algeria’s role in accelerating the AIDS response in the country and championing the Algiers Declaration in the region.

Algeria has recently introduced HIV testing at all health-care facilities and has adopted a law criminalizing all forms of violence against women. In addition, the country has significantly increased antiretroviral therapy coverage, mostly relying on domestic funds.

During his mission, Mr Sidibé visited the Institut Pasteur in Algeria and the National Laboratory for the Control of Pharmaceutical Products, part of the Algiers Centre of Excellence for Research on Health and HIV/AIDS.

“The Institut Pasteur is a centre with a continental potential for research, diagnostics, training and medicine production,” said Mr Sidibé. He added that it is time for Africa to produce its medicines and develop its technological and scientific infrastructure.

During the visit, Mr Sidibé met with the Minister of Health, Abdelmalek Boudiaf, and spoke about the strong and productive partnership between the Government of Algeria and UNAIDS. Mr Sidibé congratulated Algeria for its people-centred approach to health and its commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic. “Universal access to health care is in the Algerian constitution,” Mr Boudiaf said.

Getting on the Fast-Track in the Middle East and North Africa

23 December 2015

Governments, health experts and civil society activists have renewed their commitment to accelerate HIV testing and treatment programmes across the Middle East and North Africa as part of efforts to achieve the UNAIDS Fast-Track targets by 2020.

At a meeting hosted by the Government of Algeria and co-organized by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO), people living with HIV, national AIDS programme managers, representatives of civil society networks and the United Nations, technical partners and the media came together to assemble and reinforce the political leadership, technical capacities and resources to enable the rapid scale-up of HIV testing and treatment services.

The participants expressed their concern at the current low testing and treatment coverage in the Middle East and North Africa region. They stressed the need to mobilize additional resources and underlined that spending on the epidemic should be regarded as investment rather than expenditure. Discussions also highlighted the need to optimize rapid diagnostic technologies and to transition towards a test and treat model in line with the WHO’s new guidelines.  

The meeting in Algiers ended with a regional declaration led by Algeria’s Minister of Health to guarantee a sustained commitment to the Fast-Track strategy ahead of the United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS taking place in June 2016.


“The choice to Fast-Track testing paves the way towards reaching the 90-90-90 targets and to ending AIDS by 2030.”

Abdelmalek Boudiaf, Minister of Health, Algeria

"Egypt has adopted the 90-90-90 targets in its recently launched national strategic plan, and Fast-Tracking testing comes as a priority to achieve these targets by 2020."

Dr. Walid Kamal, National AIDS Programme Manager, Egypt

"If we test earlier we will save many lives and be on the way towards a generation without AIDS."

Nawel Lahouel, President, El Hayet Association of people living with HIV

“Our region has a historic opportunity to be among the first to reach the 90-90-90 targets. To do so, we must close the testing and treatment gaps and leave no one behind.”

Yamina Chakkar, UNAIDS Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa

Female leaders call for ending the AIDS epidemic

11 November 2014

Female leaders from the Middle East and North Africa, meeting in Algiers, Algeria, on 10 and 11 November, called for advancing gender equality, the HIV response and universal access to HIV treatment and prevention in the region.

Organized by UNAIDS in collaboration with the Government of Algeria, the League of Arab States and UN Women, the high-level meeting was a first in a series aiming for all sectors of society to take action towards the implementation of the Arab AIDS Strategy. The strategy addresses HIV as a public health and social issue and builds a foundation for halting and eventually ending the AIDS epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa by 2030.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé joined the leaders in their deliberations and emphasized that the implementation of the Arab AIDS Strategy could pave the way for the region to end the AIDS epidemic. To do so, countries should ensure their societies are more inclusive, reach people who are being left behind in the AIDS response, mobilize civil society and seize the momentum initiated by female leaders to bring about change.

Algeria has shown a strong political commitment to gender equality, with women holding 21% of ministerial positions and 31% of seats in parliament. The country’s HIV response is also an example to follow in the region. Algeria’s policy is to provide universal access to HIV prevention and treatment services, including free antiretroviral medicines to those in need, with up to 97% of funding coming from domestic sources. Algeria has also succeeded in building a strong partnership with its dynamic civil society.

Speaking to Mr Sidibé during his visit, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ramtane Lamamra commended UNAIDS for its efforts in reinforcing global partnership. Abdelmalek Boudiaf, the Minister of Health, reaffirmed his commitment towards the creation of the Research Centre of Excellence on Health and AIDS in Algeria.

Mr Sidibé also participated in an event to belatedly mark United Nations Day, held each year on 24 October. The event demonstrated the strength and unity of the United Nations system in Algeria, which is working together to advance the AIDS response in the country.


“I have come here to ask you to join me in the movement to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and to join me in placing women’s leadership, gender equality, respect and dignity at the centre of this movement.”

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

“The three principles of the Algerian constitution are accessibility, free access to services and universality without distinction or discrimination.”

Abdelmalek Boudiaf, Minister of Health, Algeria

“This is the moment to ensure that the national response to HIV and AIDS is consistent with commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment. At the occasion of Beijing+20 and in deciding a post-2015 agenda, we urge you to play a decisive role in influencing the new world of post-2015 and ending gender inequality.”

Begoña Lasagabaster, Director, Leadership and Governance, UN Women

“We look up to UNAIDS for its efforts in reconciling humanity with itself and bringing about global partnership.”

Ramtane Lamamra, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Algeria

“The presence of the UNAIDS Executive Director among us represents UNAIDS’ commitment to reinforce collaboration with the League in one of the most important health issues posing undeniable challenges towards economic and social development and threatening health security in countries of the MENA region.”

Laila Negm, Director, Health and Humanitarian Affairs, League of Arab States

UNAIDS Executive Director praises Algeria as a regional leader and pioneer in the HIV response

03 April 2012

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé (left) met with the President of the Algerian Senate, Abdelkader Bensalah, at the Council of the Nation headquarters in Algiers on 2 April.

Algeria’s early and swift response to the HIV epidemic has kept national HIV prevalence low, at approximately 0.1% of the population. Since 1998, the government has offered free antiretroviral treatment to all people who are eligible. New HIV infections among children in Algeria have been virtually eliminated.

In a meeting on 2 April with the President of the Algerian Senate, Abdelkader Bensalah, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé commended Algeria as a champion in the AIDS response—both at home and across the region.

During his meeting with Mr Bensalah at the Conseil de la Nation headquarters in Algiers, Mr Sidibé acknowledged the critical role that Algeria has played in mobilizing high-level commitment for the AIDS response within the African Union and in the League of Arab States. He noted that Algeria’s Chairmanship of the Group of 77 (G-77) provides an important platform for galvanizing further support for the regional response to HIV.

Touching on a theme from his recent missions in Africa, Mr Sidibé praised Algerian leaders for funding more than 93% of national HIV programmes through domestic sources. “Across Africa, too many countries remain too dependent on external HIV aid. Algeria’s country-owned HIV response is an example for others to follow,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Mr Bensalah underscored that the Algerian government hopes to finance 100% of its AIDS response in the coming years. He said that Algeria is committed to the targets of the 2011 Political Declaration on AIDS and to the UNAIDS vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

A call for a more inclusive society

Religion must play an important role in preventing HIV and addressing questions around drug use and sexuality

Algeria’s Minister of Religious Affairs, Mr Bouabdellah Ghlamallah

Meeting later in the day with Algeria’s Minister of Religious Affairs, Mr Bouabdellah Ghlamallah, Mr Sidibé requested the Minister’s support in ensuring a more inclusive society based on tolerance, compassion and respect for all human beings. He said that people of Islamic faith could promote HIV prevention by serving as a bridge between scientific evidence and social change.

Mr Ghlamallah reaffirmed the Ministry’s support for people living with HIV and populations at high risk of HIV infection. He said that the Ministry would continue to support El Hayet—a non-governmental organization of people living with HIV—in its efforts to reach the goal of zero discrimination.

“Religion must play an important role in preventing HIV and addressing questions around drug use and sexuality,” said the Minister.

Partnership to promote AIDS research

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé (left) and the Algerian Minister of Health, Dr Djamel Ould Abbès, signed an agreement on 2 April to create an African AIDS Research Centre in Tamanrasset, Algeria.

During his mission, the UNAIDS Executive Director signed an agreement with the Minister of Health, Dr Djamel Ould Abbès, to establish an African AIDS Research Centre in Tamanrasset, a city in southern Algeria. Scheduled to open in 2013, the Centre will facilitate the regional exchange of scientific knowledge and expertise in the domain of HIV and public health.

“This is a ‘win-win’ partnership between UNAIDS and the Government of Algeria,” said Dr Ould Abbès, noting that the collaboration would marry the technical expertise of UNAIDS with Algeria’s national resources and regional contacts.

Addressing stigma and discrimination

Speaking with key partners in the HIV response on 1 April—including health professionals, government officials, AIDS activists, people living with HIV and representatives of the United Nations—Mr Sidibé underscored the need to intensify national and regional efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination.

“Stigma drives people living with HIV and populations at high risk of HIV infection underground,” said Mr Sidibé. “It prevents vulnerable populations from accessing the HIV and health services they need.”

HIV prevention wins gold with African athletes

03 August 2007

20070803_AllAfricaGames1_240.jpgYoung athletes from across the continent visited
the AIDS awareness stand to learn more about HIV
prevention tools and techniques.
Photo credit: UNAIDS

As the flags were hoisted, national anthems sung and medals presented, HIV prevention emerged as a new champion at the 2007 All Africa games held in Algeria in July.

While athletes from across the continent ran, jumped, threw and sprinted their way onto the medal winners podium, volunteers from Algerian NGO ‘AIDS-Algerie’ kicked off a ‘Games’ HIV prevention campaign for young people in all key competition and residential sites across the Algerian capital Algiers.

Young athletes were encouraged to visit special AIDS awareness stands, where they were able to find out AIDS-related information and learn more about HIV prevention tools and techniques. With special screening of HIV prevention videos and distribution of condoms, the AIDS campaign reached out to some 25,000 young African athletes.

“The awareness raising teams were able to encourage real interest and participation from the young African sportsmen and women,” said Professor Abdelkader Semid, President of the Medical Commission for the African Games organizing committee. “This opened people’s eyes to the risks of HIV infection and the need for HIV prevention,” he added.

Organized with the support of the Games’ steering committee, UNFPA, UNAIDS Secretariat and the Global Fund, the campaign demonstrated how HIV prevention can be successfully integrated into sporting events.

20070803_AllAfricaGames2_240.jpgThe AIDS campaign reached out to some 25,000
African athletes.
Photo credit: UNAIDS

“The global response to AIDS needs everyone to get involved – from all sectors of society. This huge event gave us excellent access to leaders among Algerian and African youth – we hope this will encourage them to carry on our association’s mission to respond to AIDS,” Mr Adel Zeddam, President of ‘AIDS-Algerie’.

Athletes attending the awareness-raising stands underlined their enthusiasm at taking part in the activity and their wish to move forward the AIDS response.

“This is a great activity for people like us doing sports all around the world. It’s a really special programme and I would like to see it replicated across the world so people can protect themselves better,” said Candy, an athlete from Nigeria.

Ivorian Judo champion Camara Mangue agreed: “I would like to call for all generations to face up to AIDS – it’s everybody’s issue.”

“The world must unite and fight AIDS,” said Namibian boxer Tobias.

Following the success of the campaign, it is hoped that the HIV prevention campaign will become a regular feature of future Games and other sporting events on the continent.

“Sport is a force for change and involving young people in sports and HIV prevention campaigns can empower them to be strong and become leaders on both fronts,” said UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Algeria Dr Samia Lounnas Belacel.


More on Sub-Saharan Africa
More on North Africa
More on sports and HIV

Fashionable jobs for people living with HIV

02 February 2007

Latest styles, smartest colours and trendiest cuts will be central to an AIDS initiative in Algeria designed to help people living with HIV get back into the workplace.

The Algerian association of people living with HIV, El Hayet, has launched a pilot project for people living with HIV where participants will be trained in the production of haute-couture and prêt-à-porter clothing.

The training is led and designed by a professional dressmaker and the course will allow participants to learn about the tools and techniques of the fashion industry, in particular designing, model making, styling and sewing. Candidates who successfully complete the course will be able to obtain official recognition of their new trade from the National Chamber of Trade and Handicraft.


Zohira Merah, President of El Hayet with
workshop trainer Mr Redouane
“Algerian society can be unforgiving,” said Zohira Merah, president of El Hayet. “But people living with HIV have the right to work, to be creative and to support ourselves without having to rely on handouts or charity,” she added.

The 12-month programme, which began in September 2006, is supported by the UNAIDS Secretariat and UNAIDS Cosponsors ILO and UNDP. The project has been made possible through grants from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The initiative provides innovative economic opportunities for the participants, who will be paid for their work during the 12-month period. In addition, all the garments created during the course of the year will be sold with funds raised going to support people living with or affected by HIV in Algeria. “The economic element of this project will both help to attract new candidates and ensure motivation is kept alive to build a longer term career plan,” Zohira Merah said.

“In this world we need to learn how to take care of ourselves, that’s why I enrolled in this programme,” said one of the participants. “It’s hard to find work in today’s society, particularly for a woman. I’ve been living with HIV for 12 years and this course given me the opportunity take control of my life and be independent. When I’ve finished I’ll be able to pass on what I’ve learnt to other people living with or affected by HIV which is a good feeling,” she added.

On completion, the course offers new opportunities for people living with HIV to access sustainable economic independence thanks to the agreement established between the National Agency for Administration of micro-credits and the El Hayet. Specialized trainers will help interested and successful participants to apply for micro-credits ranging from US$ 400 to US$ 5,500, reimbursable over a period of up to five years.

“This project is a clear example of how the principle of greater involvement of people living with HIV can be achieved,” said Andy Seale, Chief of Civil Society Partnerships at UNAIDS. “Longer term sustainable solutions such as this workshop in Algeria are an essential part of the response to AIDS,” he added.

“As life-saving anti retroviral therapy becomes more widely available we need more focus on ensuring people living with HIV have the opportunity to fulfil their potential as productive members of society and be economically independent. Often this entails reintegration into the workforce but due to the stigma and discrimination still associated with HIV infection this is not always an easy process. The project is an excellent example of how this can be facilitated in a thoughtful way,” said Kate Thomson, Partnership Adviser at UNAIDS.

UNAIDS statement on Algiers bombing

12 December 2007

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) joined other UN agencies and the Secretary General in stating its shock at the tragic bombing of the UN offices in Algiers, and great sadness at the loss of life.