Ahead of a major HIV/AIDS conference that begins next week in Mexico City, the United Nations and the Mexican hotel industry have joined forces to launch a campaign focusing on prevention, awareness-raising and improved workplace policies for those living with the disease.
Together with President Felipe Calderón, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open the XVII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2008), which is expected to draw some 20,000 delegates and 2,000 journalists from all over the world to the Mexican capital from 3 to 8 August.
According to the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the hotel industry plays a vital role in the AIDS response since it can reach a wide and diverse audience with HIV prevention information, including its large workforce.
“In Mexico, we note that nearly 200,000 people are living with HIV and around 5,000 people died in 2006 from diseases related to AIDS. The XVII International AIDS Conference presents a unique opportunity to involve the local hotel industry on issues related to HIV,” said Cesar Nuñez, the Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean for UNAIDS.
“The Life Initiative – Hotels addressing AIDS,” which is aimed at hotel guests and staff, will include the display of AIDS-related leaflets, posters and brochures, art exhibitions, distribution of free male and female condoms, and showing of AIDS-related films in all participating hotels.
Condoms will be distributed at all participating hotels via the “condom project” which has been financed with the support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
More than 1,500 hotel employees in Mexico City have already been provided with information on HIV prevention and an overview of the epidemic in Mexico, as well as being sensitized on issues related to discrimination in the workplace.
The five national hotel chains participating in the initiative are Grupo Posadas, Hoteles Misión, Grupo Empresarial Ángeles, Grupo Del Ángel and Grupo Hoteles Emporio.
In addition, the initiative includes eight international hotel chains. They are Best Western International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Hotels & Resorts, Ramada International, Group ACCOR and Four Seasons Hotels.