Ninth Conference of Spouses of Heads of State and Government of the Americas


Backgrounder:  Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) brings together seven UN system organizations to help the world prevent new HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections, care for those already infected, and mitigate the impact of the AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) epidemic.

Launched in 1996, UNAIDS helps to mount and support an expanded global response to the epidemic — one that engages the efforts of many sectors and partners from government and civil society.

The Geneva-based Secretariat estimates that by late 1998, the AIDS epidemic was expanding at the rate of 16 000 new infections a day. The disastrous social and economic impact of the disease keeps AIDS high on the agenda of development assistance agencies and donor governments.

The rapid spread of HIV/AIDS is threatening the gains made in child health care over the last 20 years. Consequently, UNAIDS brokered joint action with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, once research showed that brief treatment with antiretroviral pills during pregnancy can help HIV-positive mothers have a healthy baby.

UNAIDS also identifies and analyses sound strategies and best practices for alleviating the epidemic’s impact on communities — even when these practices are judged to be "sensitive" or controversial, such as sexual health education in school. A major focus of UNAIDS work is on the needs of women and on reproductive health, including family planning and contraceptives, following the adoption of the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in 1994.

For more information, contact:

Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS
20 avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27 Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 791 3666
Fax: +41 22 791 4187