|AIDS and HIV Infection Information for United Nations Employees and Their Families (UNAIDS, 2000, 49 p.)|
Meeting the complex long-term challenge of HIV/AIDS calls for an expanded response. Direct health interventions and action to influence AIDS prevention and care must be pursued and intensified, while innovative action must address the broader context of the epidemic, including its socio-economic causes and consequences.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) was established in January 1996 for this purpose. UNAIDS is a cosponsored programme that brings together the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank in a common effort against the epidemic.
The UNAIDS Mission
As the main advocate for global action on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS leads, strengthens and supports an expanded response aimed at preventing the transmission of HIV, providing care and support, reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV/AIDS, and alleviating the impact of the epidemic.
The UNAIDS Cosponsors bring to this effort complementary mandates and multisectoral expertise, ranging from education and socio-economic development to women's reproductive health. They are committed to joint planning and action, giving UNAIDS a "cooperative advantage. Benefits include more effective advocacy, more effective use of UN system resources through the sharing of costs, and greater coherence in United Nations support to national AIDS programmes.
· Strengthening of countries' capacity for long-term action ranging from prevention and care to impact alleviation.
· Identification and use of technically-sound policies, strategies and tools.
· Societal and structural changes to reduce the vulnerability of women, young people, migrants, drug users, sexual and ethnic minorities, and other population groups.
· Supportive social, political and legal environments that allow individuals to exercise their responsibility to protect themselves and others from HIV infection.
· Entitlement to all human rights without discrimination, including discrimination based on HIV infection status. These include the right to health, travel and privacy, the right to freedom from sexual violence and coercion, and the right to the information and means to prevent infection.
· Participation and partnership.
· National responsibility to design, implement and coordinate the response to HIV/AIDS at the country level. The role of external partners, including UNAIDS, is to support and build on national action.
· Complementarity. Rather than undertaking itself what can be or is already being done by others, UNAIDS attempts to facilitate these efforts and to fill gaps in action and research.
Global and local impact
At the global level, UNAIDS is the AIDS programme of the seven Cosponsors and is responsible for policy development and research, technical support, advocacy and coordination. At the same time, the seven cosponsoring organizations integrate HIV/AIDS-related issues and UNAIDS policies and strategies into their ongoing work.
At the country level, UNAIDS can best be seen as the sum of AIDS-related activities carried out by its Cosponsors with the backing of UNAIDS technical guidance and resources. In countries where some or all of the Cosponsors are present, their representatives meet regularly in a special UN Theme Group to jointly plan, implement and evaluate AIDS-related activities. UN staff who are HIV-positive are encouraged to participate in these Theme Groups for they lend both technical expertise and personal perspective to issues surrounding HIV infection. These staff also help educate their colleagues about the stigma and discrimination that infected individuals face in the workplace.
In addition, UNAIDS staff known as Country Programme Advisers are posted in selected countries to support the UN Theme Groups on HIV/AIDS, to strengthen cooperation with national partners and to provide technical support.
Important partners in national AIDS activities include governments (through both political leadership and the relevant ministries); community-based organizations; nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); the private sector; academic and research institutes; religious and other social and cultural institutions; and people living with HIV/AIDS.
The programme also supports research to develop new tools and innovative approaches for slowing the spread of HIV and improving the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS. Examples are vaccine development, vaginal microbicides for women, methods of reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and improved methods for preventing and treating the common opportunistic infections in HIV-infected individuals.