At least 20 postal services around the world are issuing stamps and other products as part of a United Nations initiative to highlight 30 years battling the AIDS epidemic, during which 60 million people have become infected with HIV and nearly 30 million people have died of AIDS-related causes.
Nearly 3 million individual stamps will circulate within and across borders in countries as diverse as Belarus, Fiji, Iraq, Malawi and Uruguay, according to a news release issued by the Universal Postal Union (UPU). The UN Postal Administration is also issuing three stamps that will be sold at its offices in New York, Geneva and Vienna.
“Stamps – these formidable mini works of art – are noble ambassadors that leave important messages in the hands of all who receive mail,” said Edouard Dayan, Director General of the Berne-based agency.
“The Universal Postal Union is proud that so many posts have responded to our call to raise awareness of critical issues like HIV. Once again, this initiative goes to show the incredible outreach value of postal services worldwide,” he stated.
The initiative is part of the global HIV campaign launched in 2009 by the UPU, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNI Global, which represents 900 trade unions worldwide.
Many stamps are being issued this month to coincide with the three-day high-level meeting on AIDS, which begins at UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday and provides an opportunity to review progress and chart the future course of the global AIDS response.
“This is an excellent and important initiative to get people around the world talking about AIDS,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé.
“One of the greatest barriers in the AIDS response is the stigma and discrimination surrounding the disease. By initiating dialogue around HIV, these little stamps will play a big role in helping to break down some of those barriers.”
This week’s landmark General Assembly meeting on AIDS will bring together some 30 heads of State and government, along with senior officials, representatives of international organizations, civil society and people living with HIV.
Member States are expected to adopt a new declaration that will reaffirm current commitments and commit to actions which will shape the future of the AIDS response 30 years into the epidemic and 10 years since the Assembly’s Special Session on HIV/AIDS in 2001.