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World Aids Day 2015

Health, News/feature, Africa, Ireland, 2015
World Aids Day 2015

World Aids Day 2015

The global theme for World Aids Day 2015 is “On the fast track to End AIDS.”

We can’t afford to keep AIDS in isolation any longer if we are to achieve our shared aspiration to End AIDS by 2030.  We need to quicken the pace of our action to change the face of the world. As UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe eloquently says on the link above, it’s the defining moment, we need to fast track, let’s hope we can have a new generation free of HIV and avoid a rebound in this epidemic.

For this reason, our focus for World Aids Day in Ireland for 2015 is Keeping AIDS on the Agenda. This recognises the need to reinforce the message about AIDS, the global challenge that the epidemic presents and our aspiration to End AIDS.

In Ireland, we have a strong focus on gender issues and Women’s Unequal Equality. In most societies, women, young women and girls face power imbalances, unequal opportunities, discrimination and violations of their human rights, including widespread violence inside and outside of the home. 

In Ireland we have a strong focus on gender issues and Women's Unequal Equality

These factors can be a consequence of HIV and can make women, young women and girls more vulnerable to HIV infection, for example if they prevent them from negotiating when and how they have sex. In addition, women and girls commonly carry the burden of caring for the sick and for orphaned children. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has said, there is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, and never tolerable.

Irish Aid HIV/AIDS programmes in Africa – a strong gender focus

Our assistance is targeted at our partner countries most affected by the pandemic

South Africa - Our programme focuses on the needs of women and children who are affected by HIV and AIDS. Funding in South Africa is increasingly prioritised on reducing vulnerability and building resilience to the impact of HIV/AIDS and Gender Based Violence (GBV). We support network organisations that will build capacity across women’s groups and ensure that the voices of women affected by HIV/AIDS and GBV is heard in national policy fora and dialogue.

Zambia – We support increased access to social protection services for vulnerable households with a focus on female headed households and those affected by HIV

Zimbabwe – Our programmes focuses on strengthening capacity of Community Based Organisations to deliver programmes that address the triple impact of HIV/AIDS, gender inequality and GBV. Our support to The Health Development Fund in Zimbabwe will deliver results on more equitable access to quality health services for women and children including provision of services to combat the impact of HIV and AIDS, malaria and other preventable diseases.

Uganda - Irish Aid supports the UN’s Joint Programme of support on HIV (JUPSA) led by UNAIDS to reduce the number of new HIV infections among youth and adults, especially amongst adolescent girls. At a local level in the Karamoja region, we support Schools, communities and youth groups to prevent HIV and deal with its impacts.

Mozambique – Ireland is the focal donor in the health sector and has a long relationship with both the Ministry of Health and the National AIDS Council (CNCS) in the fight against AIDS and the strengthening of health services and systems. We have a very successful and innovative partnership with the Clinton Foundation which pioneers cutting edge but locally appropriate technology to better health in areas such as Paediatric ARV treatment, Health Service Mapping, Nutrition, Maternal & Neonatal Health, HIV & TB co-infection;

In addition to the above, we also provide support on HIV and AIDS through multi-lateral agencies including UNAIDS, our Civil Society support programmes including many Irish NGOs and through our various humanitarian response programmes throughout the world.

The 10th Prof Michael Kelly Lecture on HIV and AIDS

This year, on December 10th at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI), we continue to mark World Aids Day through the 10th Prof Michael Kelly Lecture on HIV and AIDS. Fr Michael is one of the most passionate and effective advocates for an integrated and sustained response to HIV and AIDS. Our theme for 2015 reminds us of Fr Michael’s message from his 2013 lecture on gender, sexuality and HIV, where he highlighted challenges of women’s limited autonomy across economic, educational, and sexual contexts, as well as cultural aspects including expectations that women should be submissive to husbands or partners, early marriage of girls, and the acceptance of gender-based violence.

For more information on HIV and AIDS, check out the Fr Michael Kelly website, which features lots of interesting information from previous World AIDS Day lectures