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OAS and UNAIDS Cooperate to Make Progress on Issues of Human Rights and HIV/AIDS in the Americas

  January 9, 2014

The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding whereby the two institutions commit to working in coordination on activities aimed at the promotion and protection of the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, and implementation of prevention and education programs in the region.

At the signing ceremony, the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, said the signing of the document takes place within the framework of the "Resolution on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights of People Vulnerable to or Living With or Affected by HIV," which was adopted by the General Assembly of the hemispheric Organization last June in Antigua, Guatemala, adding that this cooperation will create a working program that "would not be possible without the strong cooperation and support of UNAIDS."

In this regard, he stressed the importance of designing a Plan of Action to support member states in the creation and development of public policies that promote access to HIV prevention, treatment and care. He added that "it is very important for us to work with you, the agency with the most experience in this area."

The Secretary General also highlighted the progress made in the region in combating HIV/AIDS, saying that "we have managed to work in breaking the curve of growth of infection, in improving in matters of treatment, making medicine cheaper and more available to more people." He warned, however, that despite this progress, many challenges remain, among which he highlighted marginalization and discrimination. "This is a very important issue for our region and we hope to develop strong program in coordination with you," he concluded.

For his part, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, said the agreement represents "a commitment to our people so that, through the joint work of our organizations, we can bring hope and address the social drivers of this virus."

"HIV is not just a disease, it is related to security issues, social justice, distribution and access to opportunities, and above all it is a problem that confronts us with social vulnerability, because it is directly related to human rights," explained the head of the UN agency.

"This agreement will help us work closely to resolve these problems and work with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission of Women, to advance our common desire to support the people who need the support of our institutions," he added.

The total number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean increased to 1.5 million in 2012, mostly due to the limited availability of the antiretroviral treatment, and in the Caribbean, the presence of HIV/AIDS in adults is near 1.0%.

The resolution of the OAS General Assembly on which the agreement signed today was based urged member states to continue their efforts in support of laws and public policies to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people living with HIV/AIDS, and to increase prevention and treatment for pregnant women and mothers, including preventing mother-to-child transmission. The Resolution also promotes greater involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS in decision-making and in the drafting of policies and programs in response to the epidemic.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-001/14