Michel Sidibé

Michel Sidibé is Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Football and other sports are helping to equip our youth with the knowledge to protect themselves and make informed choices about their health, but we need to go further. The world urgently needs to readjust its thinking on adolescent health and well-being. Young people no longer want to be passive beneficiaries they are becoming change-makers in their own right. They can serve as powerful partners for policymakers in building effective responses to the HIV epidemic that are evidence-based and proven to work.

The international community has reached the first part of Millennium Development Goal 6: halting and reversing the spread of HIV. At least fifty-six countries have either stabilized or reduced new HIV infections by more than 25 per cent in the past ten years, and this is especially evident in sub-Saharan Africa, the region most affected by the epidemic. New HIV infections among children have dropped by 25 per cent, a significant step towards achieving the virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission by 2015. In addition, today more than five million people are on antiretroviral treatment, which has reduced AIDS-related deaths by more than 20 per cent in the past five years. However, with more than 33 million people living with HIV today, 2.6 million new HIV infections, and nearly 2 million deaths in 2009, the gains made in the AIDS response are fragile.