Ban: Stigma the biggest hurdle in battle against AIDS

Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- Prejudice against people living with HIV/AIDS makes them a fraid to speak out and allows the disease to make its deadly impact around the g l obe, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday.
"Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action.
It is the ma in reason too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they h a ve the disease, or to seek treatment," Mr.
Ban writes in an op-ed article in The Washington Times.
"It helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace o f speaking about it, or taking easily available precautions.
Stigma is a chief r e ason the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world," accor d ing to a statement issued on Thursday by the UN Information Centre in Accra.
Ban addressed a major international conference on AIDS in Mexico earlier thi s week, which brought together more than 20,000 activists, academics and policym a kers.
In the article he says he called on world leaders "to speak out against discrimi nation and to guarantee the rights of people living with HIV".
"Schools should teach respect and understanding.
Religious leaders should preach tolerance.
The media should condemn prejudice and use its influence to advance s ocial change, from securing legal protections to ensuring access to health care, " he stressed.
The Secretary-General notes that for the first time, fewer people are being infe cted by HIV and fewer are dying, thanks to changes in sexual behaviour – particu l arly among young people – and better access to anti-retroviral drugs.
He says these gains would not have been possible without strong support from the international community, and cites a renewed pledge by the G-8 group of countri e s to work toward the goal of universal access to HIV treatment by 2010, as well a s a US$48 billion commitment by United States President George Bush toward the f i ght against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria over the next five years.

07 august 2008 23:16:00

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