"Speaking out protects life": UN chief marks World Aids Day

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Naomi Campbell, AIDS activist, speaks at the Special Event on the Occasion of World AIDS day (1 December).

With a call that "tolerance and awareness helps stop AIDS" the UN chief marked his final World Aids Day as Secretary-General, saying that "speaking out protects life".

Ban Ki-moon was speaking at a special event in UN Headquarters to mark the day, which takes place every December 1.

The event entitled Moving Forward Together: Leaving No-one Behind, was organized by the UN's programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS.

Matthew Wells reports.

The UN chief, who leaves his post at the end of December promised to "stand with all of you, until we achieve an AIDS-free world".

He noted that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to leave no-one behind, adding that the UN was committed to end HIV infections, discrimination, and AIDS-related deaths, within the next 14 years.

The UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, joined others in thanking Mr Ban for his leadership in the UN's AIDS response, which he has made a signature issue over ten years in the top job.

Receiving a special Leadership Award, the UN chief called for action "to get on the fast track" to end AIDS, and said that despite criticism of his stand "by many around the world" he believed in equal human rights for all.

The supermodel and activist, Naomi Campbell, praised Mr Ban and promised to stand with the vulnerable.

"When you talk about leaving no-one behind, you inspire me to make a difference in the lives of young women. Today I stand in solidarity with the millions of young women and adolescent girls who grow up in a world that puts them at risk of HIV. I'm talking about the triple threat, not knowing her HIV status, not accessing life-saving treatment and not being empowered to protect herself from HIV. We won't end AIDS, if we don't reach you."

UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador and fashion designer Kenneth Cole also spoke at the event, alongside Rebecca Awiti, a mother living with HIV, from the Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya organization, who brought her young triplets all the way from Nairobi to New York to attend the event.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’30″

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