Press Releases

20 June 2002

Prevention of HIV/AIDS Requires Public Awareness Campaigns, Mobilization of All Sectors of Society, Secretary-General Says

Theme of Day Against Drug Abuse Is "Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS"

NEW YORK, 19 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, 26 June:

The theme of this year's International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is "Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS". Injecting drug use is the main mode of transmission of HIV/AIDS in many countries in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. It is estimated that between five and 10 per cent of global HIV infections are a result of injecting drug use -- an exceptionally potent way of spreading the virus since injecting drug users are often linked in tight networks and commonly share injecting equipment.

The work of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) as a partner agency with UNAIDS is an important part of the common strategy to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In Brazil and in Eastern Europe, for instance, UNDCP is working on the frontline of campaigns to educate the most vulnerable about the link between intravenous drug use and HIV/AIDS, and the benefits of living a healthy life, free from drugs.

Preventing HIV/AIDS and stopping drug abuse and trafficking are more than public health concerns. HIV/AIDS touches every part of society. Above all, it affects the young disproportionately, decimating the ranks of the skilled and educated during their prime years, with tragic implications for every affected country and region. Prevention requires political leadership, information and public awareness campaigns in schools and in the workplace, and the mobilization and involvement of all sectors of society, including religious and community leaders. It also requires urgent action to alleviate poverty, reduce stigma and ensure access to essential social services for all.

At a special session of the General Assembly four years ago, Member States of the United Nations committed themselves to a vigorous plan of action to combat drug abuse and trafficking. And last year, at the special session on HIV/AIDS, they pledged to establish policies and programmes to address injecting drug use as a factor making individuals especially vulnerable to HIV infection. On this International Day, let us resolve to keep these promises and work together towards a world free from drugs. In doing so, we will also do much to advance another promise that world leaders reaffirmed at the Millennium Summit in September 2000: to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by the year 2015.

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