OPEC Fund and UNFPA officially launch HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns in the Arab, Central America and Caribbean regions



November 20, 2002
Vienna, Austria

Representatives of the OPEC Fund and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) met at the UNFPA liaison office in Brussels, Belgium on November 18 for the official launch of their joint initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS in the Arab, Central America and Caribbean regions. The Fund has pledged a total of US$4.2 million towards the two campaigns to fight the pandemic. 

At the event, H.E. Dr. Y. Seyyid Abdulai, Director-General of the OPEC Fund, said that a “healthy and active global population” was essential if developmental progress was to be achieved. For that reason, he emphasized, ridding the world of the HIV/AIDS problem was imperative. UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Thoraya Obaid, described the OPEC Fund/UNFPA alliance as making a “significant contribution to the global fight against HIV/AIDS,” and noted that pooling resources in this way could prevent further infections and save lives. 

Concern has grown worldwide over the stubborn spread of the HIV/AIDS virus, which has so far infected some 60 million people and claimed the lives of an estimated 22 million, one-fifth of them children. Although the Middle East and North Africa has been, up until recently, a relatively unscathed region, the incidence of HIV/AIDS is increasing with an estimated one-half million people living with the virus. Statistics in the Latin America and Caribbean region have indicated that at least 190,000 people acquired the disease in 2001 alone, bringing the level of infection to 1.8 million people. 

The two OPEC Fund/UNFPA campaigns will run concurrently over a three-year period and target a total of 13 countries. Strategies will be implemented on a regional, national and global level and will include, among others, upgrading national prevention capacities, strengthening detection and surveillance systems, promoting public awareness, and boosting prevention, care and support services.

Since the launch of its HIV/AIDS Special Account in June 2001, the OPEC Fund has committed over US$14.3 million in grant assistance to support targeted mitigation efforts in some of the worst affected regions of the world, including Africa, the Middle East, Central America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific.