China UN official urges help to remove stigma from those with HIVAIDS

“We must address the stigma faced by people living with HIV,” UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot told the first workshop of government, business and civil society convened in China to discuss the potential role of partnerships in fighting the spread of HIV in the country yesterday.”If we do not, all other efforts will be severely undermined. Business can play a big role in breaking the silence and reducing stigma.”Workshop sponsors were UNAIDS, Harvard University and the World Economic Forum business grouping. It was part of a series called “HIV/AIDS and Business in Africa and Asia: Building Sustainable Partnerships.””For the first time, we have a chance to stop the epidemic worldwide,” Dr. Piot said, noting that defeating HIV/AIDS was a top priority for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. “When we first started, it was hard to talk to governments about this, but not now.”Unlike SARS, AIDS had lingering effects which created greater social problems, like caring for the children left behind when infected parents die, he said.”It’s not just a problem of the poor, the drug users, or prostitutes,” Dr. Piot said. “Some of the most entrepreneurial people in the country are entrepreneurial when it comes to sexual matters too.””It is act now, or pay later,” he added. “But if one country can handle this, I believe it is China.”

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