Remarks at Reception Norwegian Embassy in Managua
Ladies and gentlemen
Senoras y senores
I am very happy to be here in Nicaragua in my capacity as Special Representative of UNAIDS. I would like to thank the Ambassadors of Sweden and Norway for hosting this reception and providing an opportunity to meet such engaged and committed people.
HIV/Aids affect all of us, either directly or indirectly. It is not just another public health threat. AIDS is one of the major challenges facing humanity today together with extreme poverty and climate change. The most vulnerable are hit the hardest. Thus, the epidemic reveals overlooked and unmet needs in the development field.
I would like to commend the Government of Nicaragua and Nicaraguan civil society for fulfilling their promise to organise and host CONCASIDA. I know there are many other pressing issues in the aftermath of Hurricane Felix. I would like to use this opportunity to express my sympathy for the families affected by the hurricane and floods.
At the opening event of the conference this morning, I emphasised the importance of Positive people being at the centre of the response. In this country, people affected by HIV/Aids have demonstrated extraordinary leadership. Their expertise is indispensable in the global fight against the virus. I believe the efforts of ASONVIHSIDA provide strong examples of this.
In the response to HIV/Aids we are forced to face aspects of life that can be hard to discuss. We need neutral, safe zones where we can address issues such as vulnerability to infection in same-sex relationships, domestic violence, and sexual abuse of girls and women. Solidarity and openness are vital means of counteracting stigma. Affirming each others dignity and building mutual respect produce mutual support and strength.
We are now half way on the timeline to reach the Millenium Development Goals, set by the worlds leaders in year 2000. If we really intend to meet goal nr 6 and reverse the spread of HIV on a global scale, we need to renew our commitment and double our efforts. All of us are affected as members of a global community. Our commitment should build on acknowledging that we are all vulnerable, but also that each one of us can make a difference.