ETHIOPIA: UNAIDS warns against stigma

ETHIOPIA: UNAIDS warns against stigma

ADDIS ABABA, 26 Nov 2002 (IRIN) - Stigma and discrimination of HIV/AIDS victims are preventing countries from adequately tackling the pandemic, the UN’s anti-AIDS taskforce in Ethiopia said on Tuesday.

UNAIDS said that often the rights of victims of HIV/AIDS are violated because of disgrace attached to the virus.

Gerardina Van Mensvoort, of UNAIDS, said that combating stigma and discrimination will be a key factor of World AIDS Day which will be marked on Friday.

“Despite the catastrophe, silence prevails and action is slowed because of stigma and denial and ultimately because of people’s fears about being open,” the organisation said. “This catastrophe calls for more to be done. Part of the response lies in addressing the existing widespread stigma and discrimination.”

Ethiopia has one of the highest populations in the world living with the HIV/AIDS virus.

Dr Peter Piot, the head of UNAIDS, will be coming to Addis Ababa to commemorate World AIDS Day. He will also be meeting senior government officials to discuss their AIDS strategy.