Feature story

First Lady of Japan to champion ending AIDS

18 February 2014

The First Lady of Japan Akie Abe has made a personal commitment toward ending AIDS. In her first official solo visit as First Lady, the spouse of Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe attended the UNAIDS and Lancet Commission meeting in London on the 13-14, February 2014.

At the meeting Mrs Abe delivered a moving speech about how she came to understand the toll of the AIDS epidemic through her travels and through her work in Japan.

She was especially struck by the discrimination and stigma that people living with HIV face—the difference between a hug and keeping people at arm’s length. “A mere one meter that is the gulf so deep that continues to trap us all with unjustifiable discrimination toward people living with HIV,” she said.

She concluded her intervention by promising to work the rest of her life on ending AIDS by “amplifying the voice of the voiceless”. 

The UNAIDS and Lancet Commission: Defeating AIDS – Advancing global health, convened by Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS and Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, is co-chaired by Malawi President Joyce Banda, African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Director Peter Piot.      

As part of the Commissions efforts to provide a framework for informing how to address AIDS and health in the context of the post-2015 development agenda, dialogues have been held across regions, bringing together diverse perspectives to inform the discussions of the Commission’s London meeting. The final recommendations will be compiled in a comprehensive report which will be published in the medical journal The Lancet.