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International AIDS Society (IAS) Statement:
The IAS mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela

December 6, 2013 - The International AIDS Society today pays tribute to the extraordinary life of former ANC leader and South African President Nelson Mandela and the inspiration he provided in focusing global attention on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in his homeland, in sub-Saharan Africa and globally.

Mr Mandela's speech at the closing ceremony of the XIII International AIDS Conference in Durban in 2000 is widely considered to have ushered in an unprecedented scale-up of the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region at a time when very few Africans were receiving antiretroviral treatment, new HIV infection rates were still the highest in the world.

"The world has lost an extraordinary statesman and human being," said Bertrand Audoin, Executive Director of the International AIDS Society.

"Mr Mandela had the power to change hearts and minds, change policies and above all change the public's perception of the virus in the most affected region of sub-Saharan Africa.

"Mr Mandela helped to push aside prejudices by announcing that his own son, Makgatho, had died of AIDS. He leaves a big gap in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and we at the IAS will do all we can to continue his legacy by encouraging new leaders to step forward. His shoes cannot be filled, but others can turn his legacy into reality by making sure that all the progress being made in HIV Science translates into universal access to prevention, treatment and care in every corner of the globe."

"Nelson Mandela's passing is a tragic loss for humanity - on behalf of all our IAS members and those who have worked and continue to work in the HIV/AIDS field to save lives and keep people healthy, our deepest condolences go out to Mr Mandela's family and his beloved people of South Africa," said IAS President Françoise Barré-Sinoussi.

"But this is also a day to say thank you to Mr Mandela for his leadership role in making HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa an issue that the world could no longer ignore. Mr Mandela's opening remarks in his Durban speech reflected the sense of emergency that was engulfing his country at the time.

"He said: 'This is the one event where every word uttered, every gesture made, has to be measured against the effect it can and will have on the lives of millions.´

"As a direct result of his speech mother to child transmission in the region almost immediately became a priority and so did access to antiretrovirals. I have no doubt that his words that day did indeed save the lives of so many people and continues to do so. For this enormous contribution to humanity and for all his tireless work to help others, we thank you Mr Mandela." Barré-Sinoussi concluded.

His lasting legacy to overcome the HIV epidemic is captured in these words from him made at the first 46664 concert held at Greenpoint Stadium, Cape Town in November 2003. "AIDS is no longer just a disease, it is a human rights issue."


About the IAS:
The International AIDS Society (IAS) is the world's leading independent association of HIV professionals, with over 16,000 members from more than 196 countries working at all levels of the global response to AIDS. The IAS members include researchers from all disciplines, clinicians, public health and community practitioners on the frontlines of the epidemic, as well as policy and programme planners.

The IAS is lead organizer of the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 30 June – 3 July 2013 and custodian of the biennial International AIDS Conference, which will be held in Melbourne, Australia, 20-25 July 2014. | |

For more information:

Siân Bowen (Geneva, Switzerland)
Senior Manager, Communications
Tel: +41 22 710 0864
US Mob (July 16-28): +1 202 997 6935

Francesca Da Ros (Geneva, Switzerland)
Communications and Media Officer
Tel: +41 22 710 0822

Source: International AIDS Society

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