World AIDS Day Statement 2012

Today, on the 1st of December 2012, World AIDS Day, members of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) recognise and actively support the goal of the World AIDS Day; ‘Getting to Zero; Zero AIDS related Deaths, Zero Discrimination, Zero New HIV-Infections.’

Medical students globally use World AIDS Day to raise their voices in the fight against HIV/AIDS in several different ways; by holding peer education workshops, seminars, awareness campaigns, flash-mobs, fund-raising parties, campaigns and parades. We in IFMSA believe that for a sustainable approach it is vital to work with a multi-perspective, ergo all of these goals are equally important, and actions are being made globally to reach them all. Medical students use this day to spread comprehensive information about protection, fight stigma and prejudice, raise awareness, educate and raise money and advocate for universal access to prevention, treatmenet and care. This year we are internationally putting a focus on stigma and discrimination towards People Living With HIV/AIDS in health care settings. People Living With HIV/AIDS should be able to the same access to health care without prejudiced and stigmatized treatment. In colloboration with UNAIDS’s Crowd Out Aids IFMSA have created ‘Medical student’s pledge against the HIV-related stigma and discrimination in the health care setting‘ which medical students globally support.

Fighting discrimination is an essential part of the fight against HIV/AIDS. Stigma is a daily reality for People Living With HIV/AIDS worldwide. Stigma and discrimination is a key barrier of effective prevention, treatment, care and support. Although health care should be a zone free from stigmatization and discrimination; this is not the reality. To reach ‘Zero Discrimination’ it is necessary that health personnel takes their resonsibility, works with a professional approach, fact-based without prejudice and keeps oneself and ones patients informed and updated.

We also believe that the voice of the young peoples involvement is key in the fight against HIV. More than 2400 people between 15-24 are each day infected and for a sustainable response we, the youth, need to be the leaders in the fight against HIV. Today, young people account for 40% of adults living with HIV. To be able to reach this group, youth needs to be involved in all the forms of the fight against HIV!

An excellent example of this is working with comprehensive sexual peer education. We see education as a major factor in the fight of HIV. We believe that one should be able to get comprehensive information about protection, health care and rights. In order to inform it is also essential to leave room for discussion on norms and values, gender roles and sexual behaviour. Comprehensive education in HIV/AIDS is an effective way of working with behaviour change and promoting safer sex practice, which we believe is essential in working towards the ‘Getting to Zero’.

We, in IFMSA, see ourselves as youth advocates in the HIV-fight. We believe in an active participation of youth, we the youth should be part in forming the future we will live in. As physciscans in training we are the future in health care and we believe in a generation where stigma and discrimination is none existent. We hope to practice medicine in the best possible circumstances, where each patient feels safe and seen.

We, in the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, urge members, practicing physicians, other health professions, medical institutions and others to support the fight against stigma and discrimination in health care and elsewhere. We believe that we, as represents of youth and future physicians, the future of health care, can be rolemodels in the elimination of stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS. We also call upon institutional organizations, governments and stakeholders to invest in youth, putting young people in the center of the fight against HIV/AIDS and uniting behind the goal of ‘Getting to zero’!

Désirée LICHTENSTEIN

IFMSA Director on Reproductive Health including AIDS 2012/2013

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