Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Becomes 10th Cosponsor of UNAIDS
June 28, 2004
UNAIDS on Thursday announced that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has become UNAIDS' 10th co-sponsor, according to a UNAIDS press release. UNHCR will join nine other co-sponsors in expanding and strengthening the work of UNAIDS by combating HIV/AIDS among refugees, who are a "particularly vulnerable population" because wars and conflict expose them to poverty, family disintegration, social disruption and increased sexual violence, according to the release. UNHCR -- which is implementing its strategic plan on AIDS and refugees among 17 million people in 120 countries worldwide -- aims to implement comprehensive HIV testing and counseling programs and work to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. UNHCR also aims to address the stigma and prejudice associated with refugees, who often are held responsible for spreading the virus in host countries. "UNHCR is absolutely vital in the fight against HIV," UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said, adding, "Ensuring that refugees benefit from effective prevention efforts means that traumatized people who have had to flee their homes can avoid the further devastation of AIDS." High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers said that refugees often are neglected in host countries' HIV/AIDS programs and that including them in policies and interventions, including the provision of antiretroviral therapy, is vital to the success of any national strategy (UNAIDS release, 6/25).
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