Commitments made to transform the response to HIV at historic event on Robben Island
Robben Island/Geneva, 4 May 2011 - Archbishop Desmond Tutu has symbolically passed the
baton to a new generation of young leaders focused on AIDS. The handover took place during an event held to inspire a
transformation of the AIDS response which was convened by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
on Robben Island in South Africa.
The event joined together world renowned leaders from the UNAIDS High Level Commission on HIV Prevention with a
group of young leaders who, in turn, presented the commissioners with a 'call to action' articulating the vision of the youth
movement on HIV. The Commission on HIV Prevention was established by UNAIDS in 2010 to influence and lead social and political
action aimed at galvanizing support for effective HIV prevention programmes.
"Today is about putting our heads and our hearts together to support a renewal of leadership and commitment
in HIV prevention," said Archbishop Tutu, co-chair of the Commission on HIV and long-standing AIDS advocate. "Bold
and honest actions are needed and we look to the next generation of leaders to bring about positive change in attitudes
The youth representatives convened recently in Mali at a youth leader's summit on HIV where young people from
across the world worked to find innovative ways of strengthening the links between youth and AIDS movements, notably through
new media channels.
"Young people have the power to change the future and transform the AIDS response," said Michel
Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. "A collective youth movement mobilised around HIV prevention which exchanges
important information through new technologies and peer education will stop new infections."
Archbishop Tutu called on the young participants to commit to taking forward a new generation of leadership in
the AIDS response. He also called on the HIV Prevention Commission members to inspire and mentor them in their leadership role.
Commitments were also made by the Commissioners who pledged to take the transformation of the AIDS response
forward in their respective sectors. Commissioner Earvin "Magic" Johnson announced by video message that his
Foundation will be a founding partner of a global foundations fellowship programme for young people. Elena
Pinchuk's AntiAIDS Foundation announced a global competition for young innovators to develop social
networking campaigns. The Global centre for innovation in mobile health and Cell Life pledged to
work together with UNAIDS and mobile service providers to promote HIV prevention and behaviour
change dialogue through the use of mobile phones in at least five countries.
The event was held on Robben Island off the cost of Cape Town in South Africa where former president Nelson Mandela
was incarcerated. The location is seen as a testimony to the human spirit, symbolising the power of change.
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