His Excellency, Director General of the Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Gouya
Head of HIV/AIDS Department, Dr. Kazerooni,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning and a very warm welcome to you all, dedicated trainers from All-In Centres of Kermanshah, Shiraz, Ahwaz and Tehran. Let me start by thanking you for the great work you are all doing to help prevent HIV/AIDS among adolescents and youth.
Adolescence is one of life’s critical transitions when experimentation, risk taking and active peer interaction is part of the development process. Today, there are over 1 billion adolescents living in the world. Global data indicates that every hour about 26 adolescents are infected with HIV worldwide with girls exposed to a much higher risk. In 2014, about 2 million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 were living with HIV. While global efforts have led to a 40% reduction in HIV/AIDS among different age groups, adolescence is an exception which is still lagging behind.
In Iran, of an estimated current population of 80 million people, 60% are under 30 years of age. According to Iran’s Ministry of Health, there has been a clear shift in HIV mode of transmission from injecting drug use to sexual behaviour over recent years. Lack of appropriate knowledge about HIV/AIDS especially among adolescents and youth presents an additional challenge.
The 'All-In' initiative, a global partnership between UNAIDS and UNICEF, aims to reach adolescents with HIV services designed for their specific needs and to fast-track progress of global efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 part of Sustainable Development Goal 3; ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. All-In is a rallying cry to take urgent action with and for adolescents, a population clearly left behind in the AIDS response. All-In concentrates on some of the areas where we need to accelerate progress such as improving data and having a sharper focus on adolescents in national AIDS programmes. It also highlights the importance of strengthening the capacity of adolescents and preparing them to cope with future health and communication issues by training them on life skills and self- care as well as promoting a recreational, cheerful and safe environment.
The All-In centres are established around the same logic mainly to reach out to the most high risk and needy groups. The role of NGOs in ensuring that these centres provide effective and sustainable services to adolescents is so significant. The All-In Centres are testimony to the fact that above all other efforts, young people themselves need to be All In to end adolescent AIDS through peer to peer interaction. The more we engage them and support their leadership, the more successful our common efforts will be to end this epidemic together.
There are promising signs that a movement to end the AIDS epidemic is gathering force. More programmes are reaching out to adolescents, many steered by young people themselves. More countries are including adolescents in national AIDS agendas. The Islamic Republic of Iran is the only pioneer country in the Middle East region implementing the All In initiative and pilot centres. The efforts of Iran’s Ministry of Health in bravely speaking up on the growing spread of HIV/AIDs among the young generation and its commitment to join the All-In global movement to end this epidemics are to be greatly acknowledged. UNICEF is honoured to have such truly dedicated and hardworking partners especially in this highly important area.
I would like to wrap up by wishing you all success in accomplishing this training and thank you for your commitments and efforts in uniting with us to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among adolescents and youth.