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UNAIDS marks 10th anniversary of Zero Discrimination Day

by Haruna Gimba

By Muhammad Amaan

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has marked the 10th anniversary of zero discrimination day, noting that progress on advancing equity and fairness made for all, regardless of gender, sexuality or HIV, is in peril.

The day of activism was established by UNAIDS a decade ago.

But, despite improvements in some societies, attacks on the rights of women and girls, of LGBTQ+ people and of other marginalized acommunities are increasing.

“The attacks on rights are a threat to freedom and democracy and are harmful to health.

“Stigma and discrimination obstruct HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care and hold back progress towards ending AIDS by 2030.

“It is only by protecting everyone’s rights that we can protect everyone’s health,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

At the start of the AIDS pandemic 40 years ago, two thirds of countries in the world criminalized LGBTQ+ people. Today, two thirds of countries do not, the agency noted.

Some 38 countries around the world have pledged to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination, and today, 50 million more girls are in school than in 2015.

UNAIDS said it was crucial to keep supporting women’s movements, LGBTQ+ rights as well as campaigns for racial justice, economic justice, climate justice and for an end to conflict.

“As communities across the world stand up for rights, the United Nations is not only on their side, but by their side,” said the agency in its statement marking the day.

On the day, and across the whole of March, events are being organised to remind the world of this vital lesson and call to action: by protecting everyone’s health, we can protect everyone’s rights.

“Through upholding rights for all, we will be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to secure a safer, fairer, kinder and happier world for everyone,” Byanyima said.

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