Date: 23 August 2010
Event: Launch of Booklet “Facts on Children and HIV and AIDS”
Speaker: Mr.Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS's Representative in Viet Nam, on behalf of the United Nations Country Team
M. Nguyen Thi Nghia, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Education and Training,
Officials from MOET, MOLISA, MOH, Viet Nam Women’s Union
Provincial Education officials, representatives of adolescents, People living with HIV, including children,
Colleagues from development agencies, the UN agencies and representatives of the press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to address to you today on the occasion of the launch of the booklet “Facts on Children and HIV/AIDS”, which we hope will soon become the gold standard for the prevention of stigma and discrimination towards children living with HIV.
As highlighted by Vice Minister Nghia, the development of the booklet was prompted by the need to reinforce communication about HIV and combat stigma and discrimination, particularly in the school context. The United Nations are concerned about stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV, particularly against children, as it compromises their rights to access to basic services such as education and health and participation in public life. It can also result in being shunned by their family, peers and the wider community, also in psycho-emotional damage.With UNICEF spearheading the effort, the UN responded to MOET’s initiative to develop a resource, which will help equip teachers with factual information in order to deal effectively with questions and inquiries from parents related to HIV and AIDS.
The last year has seen strong leadership by MOET to ensure a very participatory and thorough process to develop the booklet, in which several of you participated: experts from MOET, VAAC, MOLISA, and Women’s Union working closely together with inputs of teachers from kindergarten to secondary school, representatives of parents including People living with HIV, children affected by HIV and international and national development partners. MOET has been able to develop a child-friendly handbook, which addresses the real issues facing Viet Nam. Please allow me to commend MOET and all of you for such impressive endeavour.
Please allow me to highlights two points related to the booklet.
First, the focus is on “facts”. Those of us working in this area would appreciate that despite impressive achievements in the struggle against HIV in Viet Nam, there remains serious lack of understanding about what HIV is, how it is or is not transmitted, whether people affected by HIV should be in school, what should be separate arrangements and whether those people still have the capacity to make contribution to social and public life. Such misconceptions lead to stigma and discrimination and association of anybody living with HIV with the so-called “social evils” - behaviours that are already stigmatised in this society. The booklet provides factual information, presented in simple language and format in an attempt to address those commonly found issues. The extensive field testing and consultations with stakeholders have helped to achieve this final product. We really hope this booklet will add value to all existing resources on HIV prevention education in Viet Nam.
Second, the booklet itself will not make a difference. We strongly believe how it will be used matters. Combating stigma is a long term battle. Thus, among other important action, I would like to urge all of you to promote the use of this booklet and more importantly identify creative ways to facilitate discussions and learning in school and in the community using the booklet in order to address gaps of knowledge, and particularly myths, misconceptions and doubts which have long been engraved and which perpetuate stigma and discrimination.
The development of this booklet represents powerful action to implement the HIV Law and National Plan of Action on Children Affected by HIV, your proactive effort to promote its use will help to translate the HIV Law and the NPA into practice to realise the rights of children affected by HIV and create a stigma-free and an enabling environment.
I would like to express the highest appreciation of the UN to the Ministry of Education and Training for organising this event, and to all of you for coming. In particular, it is so impressive to see the great enthusiasm and energy of our young people and we hope that you will help to further communicate these messages to your peers, your parents, your teachers and the community in an effort to address stigma and discrimination. Together, we can make things change. ALL children have a dream: the dream to grow up in a world that is fit for them, that is able to offer them adequate care, education, and protection – irrespective of their health status . We should spare no effort to make that dream come true. Let us make it happen!
Many thanks to Save the Children for facilitating the participation of children and young people in this event.
Thank you very much.
- Remarks of the UN Secretary-General at the visit to Tu Liem District HIV Prevention Treatment and Care Centre
- Remarks of the UN Secretary-General at the public launch of "Striving Together: ASEAN and the UN"
- Remarks of the UN Secretary-General to the opening session at the UN-ASEAN Summit
- Remarks of the UN Secretary-General to the closing session of the UN-ASEAN Summit
- Speech by UN Resident Coordinator Mr. John Hendra at the 14th ASEAN Confederation of Women’s Organizations (ACWO) General Assembly
- Speech by UN Resident Coordinator John Hendra at the High-Level Discussion on Social Protection