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Annex II

February 16, 2001

United Nations System Response

The purpose of the present annex is to give a brief summary of responses on HIV/AIDS under way or anticipated by United Nations system organizations and agencies.

United Nations Children's Fund

UNICEF has set the following programme priorities:

  1. To ensure that all young people know the facts about HIV and how to prevent it. This includes programs for injecting-drug users, on the control of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and youth life skills, and on lifestyle promotion.

  2. To support efforts to expand access to services to prevent parent-to-child transmission of HIV, which includes clearer guidance on the use of antiretroviral therapy and infant feeding in the context of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) projects, access to voluntary counselling and testing, and the reduction of stigma and discrimination for women living with HIV.


  3. To provide care and support by strengthening programming for orphans and vulnerable children infected/affected by AIDS and by expanding life skills training for young people. In this context, UNICEF is positioning schools as the hub in every community in the struggle against AIDS. It is working with ministries of education to dedicate time and attention to the introduction of life skills into the curricula and learning of young children. It is also negotiating with the private sector for low-cost supply of essential HIV/AIDS-related drugs.

  4. To protect young people and women from HIV in situations of conflict and emergency.

  5. To support UNICEF staff members affected by HIV/AIDS, which includes a core set of services for UNICEF staff and dependents.

UNICEF has integrated the above-mentioned priorities in all its programming at the country level and globally. It is in the process of stepping up its response in the key areas of prevention of mother-to-child transmission and care and support for children infected/affected by HIV. It is also paying particular attention to the new flashpoints for the pandemic: the Commonwealth of Independent States/Baltic countries, South Asia and the Caribbean, besides its ongoing work in Africa and South-East Asia.

United Nations Development Programme

HIV/AIDS is one of UNDP's main corporate priorities. The role of UNDP is to help countries address the governance challenge of the epidemic, focusing on four areas of intervention:

  1. Promoting robust and action-oriented advocacy for leadership at all levels, political commitment and the mobilization of actors and institutions well beyond the health sectors.

  2. Helping countries to develop capacity for action and to plan, manage and implement their response to the epidemic, including the integration of HIV/AIDS into poverty reductions strategies, and the reallocation of resources (including debt relief savings) towards prevention, care and impact mitigation.

  3. Promoting a human rights framework and gender perspective in all aspects of the response.

  4. Providing special assistance to the worst affected countries to help mitigate the impact on human development, establish governance structures and provide essential services. As coordinator of United Nations system activities at the country level, UNDP also plays a pivotal role in ensuring a coherent and mutually reinforcing response by UNAIDS co-sponsors, bilateral donors and private foundations, through the United Nations theme groups on HIV/AIDS and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).

United Nations Population Fund

The UNFPA contribution to combating HIV/AIDS derives from its long experience and expertise in negotiating and ensuring access to family planning services globally, a precedent in enabling UNFPA to address sensitive issues with national counterparts, including Governments. Since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994, by ensuring access to reproductive health services and programming for female and male condoms, working through its extensive network of field offices and technical experts in the country support team, UNFPA has been at the forefront of prevention activity and programming.

Within the UNFPA policy framework, prevention of STIs, including HIV, continues to be an integral component of reproductive health. At the country level, UNFPA works closely with United Nations partners, international agencies and national counterparts to provide assistance for STI and HIV/AIDS prevention. Such support includes advocacy, education and information for the promotion of safe sexual behavior, including voluntary counselling and testing; improving access to and use of condoms; training of reproductive health-care providers on HIV prevention in relation to family planning, antenatal and safe delivery practices; and research on the integration of HIV prevention into reproductive health programs and sociodemographic consequences of the epidemic. Meeting the needs of youth and adolescents forms a special focus of UNFPA support at all programming levels -- national, regional and global. Adolescents need the knowledge and life skills to make responsible decisions and positive choices in life. UNFPA is contributing towards this through support in many countries for the development of educational curricula, by including information on reproductive health in general and HIV/AIDS in particular, gender issues, sexuality and family life; improving access to information, counselling and clinical services; promoting greater participation of youth and advocacy efforts, both for girls and boys -- based on the key messages of ICPD and its five-year review.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNESCO efforts focus on education, basic research, social and human sciences, human rights, public information and awareness activities. Its priorities are to develop and improve educational strategies to support young people in adopting attitudes and behavior to prevent HIV infection, particularly among schoolgirls; undertake studies on the impact of AIDS on education and programs for orphans and children living in poverty; mobilize decision makers on educational policies; undertake primary prevention of drug use among young people; strengthen actions so that HIV-affected groups can benefit from research efforts and means of prevention; promote the transfer of knowledge/scientific research for affordable treatment; develop a sociocultural approach to HIV/AIDS prevention and care; and integrate new preventive behaviors in the messages and training of sociocultural educators and journalists.

United Nations Drug Control Programme

UNDCP objectives related to HIV/AIDS are to prevent the spread of the epidemic linked to the abuse of drugs; undertake community outreach projects; develop legislation; and integrate demand reduction efforts into broader social welfare and health promotion policies. UNDCP has supported the development of projects in five Central Asian countries to strengthen their capacity in policy formulation, planning and management of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and drug abuse prevention; a subregional project in the southern cone of Latin America promotes common methods and standards to conduct epidemiological surveillance. UNDCP is participating in the regional response to the problems created by the spread of the abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants and HIV/AIDS in Central and Eastern Europe, and in collaboration with other United Nations agencies has developed country projects to assist Governments in coordinating and managing HIV/AIDS, STDs and drug abuse prevention and care activities. In East Asia, the development and implementation of policies and programs for a community-based response to support demand reduction and prevent the spread of HIV through drug injection is also a priority.

World Health Organization

WHO is intensifying its support for Member States' efforts and is doing so within the context of the wider multisectoral response to HIV, reflecting the overarching importance of good sexual and reproductive health. The priorities for intensified action now include support for countries' efforts to prevent and manage sexually transmitted infections; provide voluntary counselling and testing through health services; implement and monitor interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV; ensure care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS; and implement other cost-effective interventions, as relevant to specific settings. Particular attention is paid to the interests of populations who are at high risk or are especially vulnerable, including sex workers and injecting drug users. WHO continues to recognize the importance of meeting the particular needs of young people, and gives special attention to relieving the impact of HIV/AIDS on health systems (including the particular HIV infection risks experienced by health workers). Thus, WHO priorities include supporting and coordinating high-quality research on HIV/AIDS, providing technical support for programme development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and surveillance of HIV infection and its behavioral determinants. In some cases, support is provided through links with programs on reproductive health, essential drugs, disease surveillance, the provision of health information, vaccine development, blood safety or substance use.

WHO has strengthened its normative functions and the technical capabilities of WHO regional and country teams. Regional and country offices are focusing particular attention on strengthening the health sector responses to the epidemic, and have prime responsibility within the United Nations system for issues related to care and support of people living with HIV/AIDS and for the availability of prevention and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. WHO regional offices are recruiting specialists to act as focal points for specific areas of work, including voluntary counselling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and other essential components of HIV/AIDS work; the coordination of HIV activities within health systems; and surveillance (with an emphasis on behavioral issues). Additional qualified staff, including national programme officers, are to be placed in countries. Subregional technical teams are being established to provide direct support to countries and facilitate the management of regional technical networks.

WHO is also developing a global health-sector strategy for responding to the epidemics of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections as part of the United Nations system's strategic plan for HIV/AIDS for 2001-2005, as requested by the World Health Assembly in its resolution WHA53.14. The process includes wide consultation with Governments, non-governmental organizations, WHO regional offices and country representatives, collaborating centres and experts. The global strategy proposes three main tactics: reducing the risks of HIV infection; decreasing people's vulnerability to HIV infection; and lessening the epidemic's overall impact on people's lives and on development.

World Bank

The World Bank has made HIV/AIDS a top institutional priority, both for analysis and action. The Bank placed HIV/AIDS at the centre of the global development agenda during the April 2000 meetings of world finance ministers, detailing the severe threat the epidemic poses to development around the world. It has expanded the economic analysis of the impact of AIDS, and in connection with the UNAIDS secretariat has produced detailed estimates of the costs of mounting comprehensive national HIV/AIDS programs. It has taken a leading role in initiatives to help bring an HIV vaccine to market in the developing world, and is one of the UNAIDS co-sponsors involved in the accelerating access initiative to make antiretroviral drugs more accessible in poor countries.

The Bank has also increased its support for HIV/AIDS programs. In September 2000, it launched the first phase of the multi-country AIDS programme for Africa. Prepared in collaboration with UNAIDS, the International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa, key bilateral donors and leading NGOs, the programme is designed not only to increase resources for HIV/AIDS but also to address the key impediments to an expanded response, such as slow implementation and inadequate support to communities. The first phase of the programme has made $500 million in credits available to countries in Africa to step up national prevention, care and treatment programs, and to help them prepare to cope with the impact of AIDS. Programme resources may be used to support initiatives by government, civil society, the private sector and communities; special mechanisms have been designed to ensure funds flow quickly to community level. The Bank is now preparing a similar initiative for the Caribbean, and is also supporting major HIV/AIDS projects in several other countries, including Brazil, China and India.

International labor Organization

The focus of the ILO is on the development of workplace policies and the implementation of a global technical cooperation programme on HIV/AIDS and the world of work. At the global level, an effort is being made to apply ILO concepts and methods developed on labor and social issues to respond to HIV/AIDS. An international code of practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work is expected to be adopted in May 2001 to provide legal and practical guidance on developing workplace policies, especially towards protecting fundamental rights at work. Programme priorities include the application of a "social vaccine" for prevention and protection, such as social inclusion and income and job security; strengthening activities against the virus through improved knowledge; documenting and disseminating information through effective labor market information systems; eliminating the stigmatization and discrimination attached to HIV/AIDS by adopting and applying ILO international labor standards; integrating HIV/AIDS in existing social security schemes and developing new ones. Initially, action by the ILO has mainly focused on Africa and the implementation of an African platform of action on HIV/AIDS; in addition, ILO global programs now include country-level activities in Asia and the Pacific, Eastern and Central Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Key activities carried out in the context of the global programme focus on promoting awareness and developing strategies concerning the impact of HIV/AIDS on the world of work, and documenting and disseminating information on national experience; incorporating workplace policies into national action plans against HIV/AIDS; integrating HIV/AIDS issues into all ILO programs at the national and enterprise levels, particularly with respect to combating discrimination and social exclusion; and mitigating the adverse social and labor consequences of HIV/AIDS.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

In response to the HIV epidemic, FAO contributes its technical expertise in sustainable agriculture and rural development, and is developing strategies through which the agricultural sector can address HIV/AIDS. With UNAIDS, FAO will undertake integrated prevention programs that will help spread information, especially to young men and women, about HIV vulnerability, risk reduction and sustainable rural development. It is exploring ways of assisting farming communities in rural areas with high HIV prevalence, and of developing agriculture programs that modify mobility patterns to reduce the vulnerability of migrants to HIV infection and develop strategies that focus on prevention.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The objective of the Office in the area of HIV/AIDS is to contribute to an effective and sustainable human rights-based response to the epidemic at the national, regional and international levels through enhancing the integration of HIV/AIDS issues within the human rights machinery. It advocated the inclusion of HIV/AIDS on the agenda of the Commission on Human Rights and its Subcommission; has widely distributed the international guidelines on HIV/AIDS and human rights to States, United Nations agencies and NGOs; and has contributed to increasing political support for HIV/AIDS initiatives through the adoption of Commission on Human Rights resolutions on HIV/AIDS and human rights. Programme priorities include strengthening the respect of human rights as part of the response to the epidemic, reducing HIV/AIDS-related discrimination at work and elsewhere by engaging persons infected and affected in promotion, protection and respecting human rights within prevention, control and care programs. The Office will advocate for the implementation of HIV/AIDS-related rights of populations vulnerable to HIV/AIDS so that the vulnerability of these populations to human rights violations and exposure to HIV is reduced. Together with UNAIDS, it will continue to organize training sessions on human rights in the context of HIV for experts within the United Nations human rights system and other relevant partners, such as Governments and NGOs.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

UNHCR programme priorities addressing HIV/AIDS include the strengthening of the STI and HIV/AIDS prevention and care component of reproductive health programs in refugee settings, as well as capacity-building of UNHCR staff and partners in the design and implementation of HIV/AIDS prevention and care activities. It also disseminates information (i.e., best practice packages and guidelines) and advocacy on HIV/AIDS prevention and care needs of refugees through international, regional and national forums. UNHCR priority geographic regions are the Great Lakes Region and West Africa.

United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

Recognizing the undeniable importance of the HIV/AIDS epidemic affecting the world today, the Institute prepared an issues paper on HIV/AIDS and development at the invitation of the UNAIDS secretariat during 2000. During this period, UNRISD began to form a network of well-known researchers (social scientists, activists and medical specialists) with an interest in further work on HIV/AIDS. The Institute's goal in this field is to generate new knowledge about the course and consequences of the epidemic, as well as new ideas on how to strengthen the capacity of particular societies to deal with HIV/AIDS.

United Nations Volunteers

The main focus of UNV in the area of HIV/AIDS is the strengthening of local initiatives for prevention and control of the epidemic through community-oriented, participatory involvement. UNV also strives to alleviate the devastating socio-economic effects of the pandemic by disseminating HIV/AIDS information and by providing training and general health care. Together with the UNAIDS secretariat and UNDP, it has launched a pilot project, unique in the United Nations system, by engaging people living with HIV/AIDS as national United Nations volunteers to work in their own communities. The project helps to set up women support groups for orphans of HIV/AIDS and their foster parents; provides technical assistance so that local communities can produce their own publications on HIV/AIDS; and trains co-workers to manage HIV laboratory operations. UNV programme priorities and targets include building government and community capacity in relation to information, education and communication skills for HIV prevention; providing loans to sex workers; and training community caregivers for orphans in Africa and Asia and the Pacific, its priority geographic regions.

World Food Programme

WFP is working towards incorporating HIV/AIDS concerns into all of its programs, both development and emergencies. WFP concentrates on using food aid as a way to improve the food security of HIV/AIDS- affected families and orphans. In collaboration with its partners, WFP will also incorporate information, education and communication activities at its distribution sites through community partners, such as relief committees.

At the headquarters level, WFP is developing a strategy and guidelines to integrate HIV/AIDS into all existing and new programs. At the field level, WFP will programme mitigation activities, including school feeding with take-home rations for families with orphans; food rations for tuberculosis patients undergoing therapy; and vocational/agricultural training for street children and orphans. Current pilot interventions also include using WFP's extensive logistics network to support HIV/AIDS education and risk-reduction activities for contracted transport workers.

United Nations Development Fund for Women

The reality that the epidemic is fuelled in a major way by gender relations and gender inequality has led UNIFEM to expand its work on gender, human rights and HIV/AIDS. The organization's three priority areas -- strengthening women's economic rights, engendering governance and leadership, and promoting women's rights -- are all essential strategies in this effort. In keeping with its mandate to be catalytic, innovative and to support inter-agency mechanisms for mainstreaming gender, the UNIFEM programme for action on gender and HIV/AIDS will include work on advocacy, brokering partnerships and capacity-building.

UNIFEM has recently completed the first phase of a global programme, "Gender focused responses to the challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic," which was funded in large part by UNAIDS and UNFPA. The programme, which is currently going into phase II, was designed to link policy, research and outreach strategies on gender and HIV/AIDS in order to build bridges of support, advocacy and activism at the national and regional levels.

United Nations Industrial Development Organization

UNIDO aims to contribute to the reversal of the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on rural and urban livelihoods. Within the framework of the UNIDO integrated programs being implemented in several countries, major initiatives have been taken to mobilize the private sector/business community, including women entrepreneur groups, to support HIV/AIDS-specific activities, focusing on awareness creation, prevention and survival. In response to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa and in accordance with the development objective of supporting the developing countries in their efforts to accelerate socio-economic development, UNIDO will address the issue of HIV/AIDS at the global forum level and with appropriate technical assistance programs, preferably with the support of the international private sector, especially those with interests in Africa. It is proposed to undertake action-oriented studies on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the private sector, including enterprise-level surveys, with a view to defining realistic strategies and mainstreaming HIV/AIDS awareness and "business against AIDS" prevention campaigns into the UNIDO network of industrial support institutions and enterprises. In addition, technical assistance programs will focus on building capacities and capabilities for the production of AIDS-related health products, including support to plant-derived pharmaceutical research and pilot programs in southern Africa and elsewhere.

Resident Coordinator System

The resident coordinator system is responsible for the UNDAF process in which the United Nations Theme Groups play a critical role. The theme groups on HIV/AIDS are platforms for bringing the United Nations together in support of the countries affected by HIV/AIDS. They are mainly responsible for coordination, advocacy and partnership building, joint policy and strategic decision-making and integrated planning, and in some instances have played a key role, together with UNAIDS, in resource mobilization for country-based United Nations initiatives. Within the resident coordinator system, the theme groups on HIV/AIDS have been among the earliest established to lead and support an expanded multisectoral response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The theme groups on HIV/AIDS have been expanded to facilitate dialogue and networking between partners, thereby strengthening support to the national response. Membership has been expanded to include Governments, civil society groups, NGO AIDS consortia and bilateral donors. People living with HIV/AIDS have also become members.

The theme groups on HIV/AIDS have been actively engaged in the UNDAF process, first through the common country assessment process and then in UNDAF, which is based on the common country assessment, and subsequently in the elaboration of individual agencies' country programs as well as joint programs and projects. They have also been linked with a number of other key instruments of development cooperation, employed by the United Nations system and other partners.

United Nations Secretariat

The Division for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, in its coordinating capacity, acts as the focal point for the United Nations Secretariat on HIV/AIDS. The Division for Social Policy and Development is undertaking a study on families in the most HIV/AIDS-affected countries, and HIV/AIDS will be a topic in one of the working groups of the World Youth Forum, to be held from 5 to 12 August 2001 in Senegal. The Population Division includes HIV/AIDS in official United Nations population estimates and projections to enable the assessment of the epidemic. In order to contribute to further understanding of the issue of the increasing proportion of women living with AIDS in every region, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and among younger age groups, the Division for the Advancement of Women, in collaboration with WHO and UNAIDS, convened an Expert Group meeting on the HIV/AIDS pandemic and its gender implications in Namibia in November 2000. The Commission on the Status of Women repeatedly discusses women and HIV/AIDS, including when it reviews the critical area of concern "Women and health." The increasing proportion of women living with HIV/AIDS was raised in Commission resolution 44/22 on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations cooperates with the Civil Military Alliance to Combat HIV and AIDS, developing training programs and educational materials for military and other personnel assigned to United Nations peacekeeping operations. HIV/AIDS is becoming part of the meeting agendas of the regional commissions, and the Economic Commission for Africa convened the Second African Development Forum in December 2000, on the theme "AIDS: the greatest leadership challenge." The results of the Forum will serve as a valuable input to the preparatory process for the special session of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS. The Department of Public Information raises public awareness on the epidemic and its effects through radio, television and printed matter. The United Nations Medical Service ensures that United Nations policies on HIV/AIDS for staff members and peacekeepers are implemented. It provides proper health education, training and measures for personal protection, thereby offering an effective AIDS prevention programme.

World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO addresses the issue on patents for pharmaceutical products for the treatment of HIV/AIDS within the context of the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights agreement. It provides legislative advice, human resources and infrastructure development for tailoring solutions to the needs of a country to implement international obligations and ensuring access to health care.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

UNRWA's current priorities concerning HIV/AIDS include the education of vulnerable groups, such as youth at school, vocational training centres and women's programme centres, as well as surveillance of STDs and HIV/AIDS. This is carried out by training health staff on counselling for epidemic prevention and control, and the production of educational kits for school teachers and students. UNRWA is represented in the national AIDS committees in the host countries and areas of Jordan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon and Palestine.

World Tourism Organization

WTO is an intergovernmental organization that serves as a global forum for tourism policy and issues. It addresses HIV/AIDS issues in the context of its mandate through its international campaign against organized sex tourism, specifically against child sex.

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS is the leading advocate for global action on HIV/AIDS. It brings together seven United Nations bodies in a common effort to fight the epidemic: UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, UNDCP, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank. UNAIDS both mobilizes the responses to the epidemic of its seven co-sponsoring bodies and supplements these efforts with special initiatives. The areas of focus of the UNAIDS secretariat are to sustain and build political momentum; improve support to country-level resource mobilization and national coordination, ensuring a well-coordinated United Nations response; accelerate access to HIV care, noting the inseparability of prevention and care, with attention to equity and affordability; and leverage technical support and knowledge management.

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This article was provided by UNAIDS. It is a part of the publication Review of the Problem of HIV in All Its Aspects. Visit UNAIDS' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.