UN Partners with Youth to Mark World AIDS Day in Georgia

Since 1988, December 1 has been marked as the World AIDS Day to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS, show support for people living with HIV and commemorate people who have died. This year the UN marked World AIDS Day with ‘new hope’, as the world leaders committed to end AIDS epidemic by 2030, within the new Sustainable Development Agenda. With Georgia being no exception, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and Georgian Youth Development and Education Association (GYDEA) in partnership with University of Georgia (UG) joined the global marking and organized an event in the Round Garden opposite the UN House in Tbilisi.

At the event, which aimed to increase awareness on HIV prevention among youth, the TV public service announcement (PSA) promoting free of charge HIV counseling and testing services among youth and women, was launched. The PSA is a collaborative initiative of the UNFPA and UN Women in partnership with the Georgian AIDS and Clinical Immunology Research Center. The presentation of the video was followed with the Awards Ceremony of the winners of the Youth contest on the most creative media pieces on the topic of HIV prevention, announced by UNFPA earlier in November. After the awards ceremony, popular youth bands “Ghost Vision” and “King Monkey” performed for the audience.

Currently, Georgia stands among HIV low prevalence countries; by November 2015 there have been 5 328 registered cases of HIV, the majority of which belong to 29-40 age group. The correlation between violence against women and HIV & AIDS is high and women and girl victims of violence represent those of the high risk group. Although the infection is mainly located among the male population (69% of total reported cases), during the last year the proportion of women affected increased from 25% to 31%.

“In order to support HIV prevention, it is of utmost importance to increase awareness on the issue, especially among adolescents and youth. Although Georgia is an HIV/AIDS low prevalence country, the number of registered cases is on the rise, which represents a serious public health challenge. Increasingly, HIV impacts women, thus our efforts and responses to HIV must be targeted to addressing their needs,” – said Ms. Lela Bakradze, Assistant Representative of UNFPA Georgia Country Office.

The United Nations has a significant role and is committed to support implementation of the new Global UNAIDS strategy globally and at the national level. HIV control and management continues to be a central plank of global strategies to improve women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health. HIV prevention among youth has been one of the key focus areas of UNFPA Georgia Country Office for more than a decade now. UNFPA supports strengthening of integrated HIV and sexual and reproductive health services and strongly believes that increased national investments in HIV prevention, especially for young people and key affected populations, will contribute to ending AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Mariam Sikharulidze

03 December 2015 21:27