UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lang Lang urges stronger global fight against HIV/AIDS
NEW YORK 21 June, 2011 - UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and world renowned pianist Lang Lang can be spotted all over town these days – despite being in China. With posters in subway stations, on taxis and bus stops, Lang Lang is using his star power to help raise awareness in connection with a global meeting at the United Nations on the urgency to do more in addressing the devastating impact of HIV and AIDS – especially on the world’s most vulnerable children.
As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for over seven years, Lang Lang continues to passionately advocate for the rights of children around the world – and to make sure that they are no longer the missing face of HIV and AIDS. The pianist launched the latest campaign in connection with the United Nations high-level meeting in New York from 8 to 10 June, which comes 10-years after a landmark UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS. The High Level Meeting on AIDS; which included the UN Secretary General, world leaders, representatives from civil society, people living with HIV, community organizers as well faith based organizations from around the world; was to take stock of progress made in the last decade and the challenges that lie ahead.
Although global efforts to improve the lives of children affected by HIV and AIDS are increasing – they still fall short of the growing needs of millions of children. At the end of 2010, an estimated 16.6 million children had lost one or both parents to AIDS – with some 14.9 million of these children living in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Much more must be done to help the most vulnerable children – especially those who have lost a parent, a teacher, a health worker or another loved one to AIDS ,” said Lang Lang in explaining why he had decided to launch the recent awareness campaign. “This is a global problem that needs a global response. We all have a role to play, and we must act with urgency to help ensure that the lives of children and their families can be saved and improved.”
Many HIV-affected children – especially those impacted by poverty - continue to face enormous challenges, including the burden of caring for sick relatives, trauma from the loss of parents, economic distress due to declining household incomes and high healthcare costs. Children, some of whom are left to fend for themselves and their siblings, are also at higher risk of abuse or sexual violence, which makes them – especially girls – more susceptible to HIV infection and at higher risk of living lives of poverty. Analysis shows that the poorest household are often the least resilient to the impacts of HIV, and that HIV is in itself impoverishing.
Stigmatization is another issue that needs to be addressed, especially in settings where epidemics are still relatively concentrated and where children and their parents can quickly become social outcasts. Access to social services and progressive legislation to reduce social exclusion are also essential in improving the lives of children and communities affected by HIV and AIDS.