Executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on H.I.V./AIDS, Michel Sidibé has just completed a whirlwind tour of China. He met with the vice-president and national health minister to discuss how China can meet the U.N.’s goals which aim for zero new H.I.V. infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths worldwide. “The government needs to take a stronger stance to ensure that there is zero tolerance for discrimination against homosexuality, especially in health-care settings,” Sidibé said in an interview.
What’s the Big Idea?
“The major failure of our AIDS programme today is people’s lack of knowledge of their H.I.V. status,” says Sidibé. “If we start people on treatment early, we can reduce transmission by 96%.” He says it is absolutely necessary for BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to participate in global health initiatives because they constitute 40% of the world’s population and account for nearly one-third of the global AIDS epidemic. “BRICS countries are a voice with incredible economic and innovative strength, intimately connected to the needs and interests of the developing world,” he said.