UNESCO and GBC hold business forum on HIV/AIDS on World Aids DayOn December 1, representatives of several of the world’s leading multinational corporations will come together to discuss HIV/AIDS education and prevention programmes implemented by business. The Business Forum on HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention, co-organized by the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GBC)* and UNESCO, will take place at UNESCO Headquarters (8.30 a.m. – 12.30, Room X).
Held on World AIDS Day, the Forum will highlight innovative prevention and education programmes run by businesses to address the HIV/AIDS crisis. It will also consider new strategies for the future.
Of the 4.3 million new adult infections worldwide in 2004, half were young people between the ages of 15 and 24, according to UNAIDS. Additionally, the rate of infection among women has been increasing yearly and women now represent 50 percent of the 37 million adults living with HIV/AIDS. These figures clearly demonstrate the crucial need for new approaches to boost the efficiency of HIV/AIDS prevention and education programmes.
“The alarming spread of HIV/AIDS, which poses a serious threat to the development of vast regions all over the world, requires a massive mobilization of all sectors of society,” declared UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. “Individuals, communities and, indeed, whole countries stand to benefit from the cooperation between intergovernmental, governmental and private sector partners in this vital struggle.”
“We are pleased to have this opportunity to recognize business activity in education related to HIV/AIDS,” said Cristina Owen-Jones, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS Prevention Education. “HIV/AIDS has become increasingly integral to the work of UNESCO and we are eager to share our expertise with business”.
In different parts of the world, the private sector is helping to prevent the spread of HIV among employees and local communities — by increasing access to HIV/AIDS prevention information, testing services, and antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. “Our member companies are playing a critical role in reducing the spread of the epidemic,” said Thérèse Lethu, European Director of GBC. “It is more important than ever to highlight success stories and to understand better the challenges that businesses and communities face.”
Speakers at the Forum will be GBC members from L'Oreal (South Africa) a company that is educating hairdressers in personal hygiene and HIV/AIDS prevention; Virgin (United Kingdom), which is encouraging employees to donate one hour of their annual salary to support HIV/AIDS education programmes in Africa; Unilever (Africa) which is bringing information on prevention to communities through schools, Total (Angola), and Bayer (China) and Lafarge (China). A representative of the BBC (UK) will also take the floor.
Participants will also hear presentations by GBC Vice President, Bertrand Collomb, Chairman of Lafarge, Cristina Owen-Jones, Hans-Heinrich Wrede, Chairman of the Organization’s Executive Board, UNESCO Assistant Director-General Françoise Rivière and Ms Lethu.
Jorge Wertheim, Director of UNESCO’s Bureau in Brazil will discuss the success of public and private sector cooperation in HIV/AIDS education and prevention in Brazil
Finally, participants will have the opportunity to debate issues relating to UNESCO’s prevention and education programmes and to the role that the business sector can play through badly needed innovative practices and strategies.
Journalists wishing to cover the Business Forum on HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention should request accreditation from UNESCO’s Press Relations Section: tel +33 (0)1 45 68 17 48 firstname.lastname@example.org
* Headquartered in New York City with offices in Paris (France) and Johannesburg (South Africa), GBC is the pre-eminent organization leading the business fight against HIV/AIDS. The rapidly expanding alliance of over 170 international companies is dedicated to combating the AIDS epidemic through the business sector's unique skills and expertise. Its mission is to harness the power of the global business community to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic. See: www.businessfightsaids.org