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HIV/AIDS mortality rate can be reduced: UNAIDS executive director

(Xinhua)

09:34, June 27, 2012

BEIJING, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Michel Sidibe said Tuesday that he believed the HIV/AIDS mortality rate could be reduced.

"Today we see the decline of the mortality rate," Sidibe said during an interview with Xinhua in Beijing.

"Just 10 years ago, no one would have believed that we could give treatment to poor people," he said, noting the international community had made achievements in the fight against AIDS.

He said if people with AIDS received treatment early, the infection could be reduced to some extent.

"In some parts of the world, we have people under the same medicine for years, like in Africa, so we need to make sure that they can have early access to better medicine," he said.

Concerning the development of a vaccine, he said he believed that "the world is not doing enough to really find the vaccine."

Sidibe said people need to understand that society is changing, and some taboos need to be removed to make people believe that "anyone has the right to exist."

He said China "is making progress" in controlling HIV/AIDS, while recalling the talks he attended last December between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and people living with HIV, representatives from the academic circle, civil society and international organizations.

Sidibe said the talks demonstrated Wen's personal commitment to the fight against AIDS.

A joint research report released by UNAIDS and the Chinese side shows that by the end of 2011, about 780,000 people were estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in China.

During the visit to China, Sidibe granted a leadership and innovation award to President of Xinhua News Agency Li Congjun.

The award is a new UNAIDS award to honor individuals or institutions that have made exemplary contributions to the global campaign on the "three-zeroes" vision set forth by UNAIDS -- namely, zero new infections, zero discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and zero HIV/AIDS-related deaths.

When addressing award ceremony Tuesday morning, Sidibe said the award honors Li's outstanding leadership and innovative spirit in promoting HIV prevention around the world.

Xinhua helped publicize the 2011 World AIDS Day, with its affiliated newspapers, magazines and website covering related activities. In addition, a Xinhua LED billboard in Manhattan's Times Square showed HIV prevention images for three days. Xinhua correspondents around the world also issued relevant reports through multimedia channels.

Sidibe hailed the media's role in the prevention of HIV/AIDS, saying they can "give the voice to the voiceless," help people know where to get help, and provide ways to advocate and bring social mobilization. '

"The 'three-zeroes' will not be possible without mobilizing media," he added.

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