World AIDS Day message from Alejandra Oraa, UNAIDS Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Latin America and the Caribbean

alejandra oraa 2020


As the world continues to struggle to contain the Covid-19 pandemic,   I am reminded of another virus that brought havoc on the world: HIV. Those who know their history (or are old enough to remember) know how difficult it was to understand the virus that causes AIDS. Thousands of people died while scientists fought to uncover the cause of this mysterious illness. Without treatments or even knowledge of how to prevent transmission, many suffered without any explanation as to what was happening to them. However, sympathy and solidarity from the global community replaced despair with hope. Our shared responsibility and an unwavering determination to find answers changed the course of history and showed us that we are capable of overcoming adversity and making the world a better place.

Today is World AIDS Day and I want to share my story as a regional Latin-American UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador. No, AIDS is not a condition that directly affects me or a member of my family. My role as a Goodwill Ambassador is about advocating for better sex education and health access among women and girls in Latin America.

In my work as an Ambassador (and as a journalist for CNN), I have seen incredible suffering. Abused children. Immigrants who have walked thousands of miles for access to medical treatment. Women who have had to resort to sex work to make ends meet. But for all of the hardships I have witnessed, I have also seen countless individuals fighting hard to overcome these challenges. Teaching and spreading information about how to live a safer, healthier life has given me tremendous joy and is my way of trying to make the world a better place.

We have come a long way in Latin America, but we have room for improvement. Access to sexual and reproductive healthcare is too far down on the list of priorities. And the lack of sex education resources and awareness is concerning. Why is it concerning? In my work with UNAIDS, one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that ignorance and discrimination can sometimes be more harmful than HIV itself. It is my mission as an Ambassador to teach others to look at the world in a different way, to stomp out injustices, and to help others lead safer, healthier lives.

If with this pandemic we have not realized that what happens to one  person happens to all of us, if we have not learned that one life is not worth more than the others, then do it now! Remember: we are not all in the same boat, but we all live in the same sea.


Versión en español



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