UNAIDS, in partnership with the hotel InterContinental Genève, Cartier and Etihad Airways, held its first fundraising gala, in Geneva, Switzerland, last week.

Nico & Vinz Perform for UNAIDS

The event was part of UNAIDS’ efforts to ensure that children everywhere are free from HIV and that mothers have access to antiretroviral medicines to ensure that they stay alive and well.

The gala was held under the patronage of Caroline Rupert, Kweku Mandela and Ndaba Mandela, and was attended by personalities from both Switzerland and abroad.

The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé opened the event, emphasizing the importance of stopping new HIV infections among children. “The science and medicines exist to ensure that no child becomes infected with HIV. Mobilizing innovative partnerships and increased resources will be vital to reaching all women and children in need of life-saving HIV prevention and treatment services.”

Florence Ngobeni-Allen, Global Ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, from South Africa, and Ashley Rose Murphy, from Canada, spoke about their experiences of living with HIV. “I was born in 1998, when Canada had the medications and the ability to ensure that almost zero babies were born with HIV. I should not have HIV. But I do,” said Ms Murphy. “Now these life-saving medications can be available everywhere. If we work hard, we can make sure that no one, no matter where they live, is born with HIV.”

The musical highlight of the evening was the Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz performing their hit songs Am I Wrong and My Melody, a song dedicated to people living with HIV.

Michel Sidibé with Nico & Vinz
Michel Sidibé with Nico & Vinz

A live auction was curated by David Bennett from Sotheby’s, for which Cartier provided a set of haute jewellery earrings and a lady’s watch. Further items included pieces from Victoria Beckham's collection, Christian Louboutin custom-made shoes, a watch from Piaget and a Nelson Mandela limited edition print donated by Annie Leibovitz.

The theme of the gala was “Cities around the world”. Cities’ responses to HIV have been at the forefront since the start of the epidemic. Fast-Tracking the response to HIV in cities will be essential to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

The partnership between UNAIDS and the hotel InterContinental Genève began in December 2013 with the launch of the Where History is Made campaign, a joint initiative to raise funds to support the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive (Global Plan).

In 2013, some 240 000 children became newly infected with HIV and 190 000 children died of AIDS-related illnesses. Without HIV treatment, half of all children born with HIV die by the age of two and most die before their fifth birthday.

The Global Plan aims to reduce the number of new HIV infections among children by 90% and AIDS-related deaths among pregnant women and children by 50%. It focuses on all countries, but particularly on the 22 countries where 90% of new HIV infections among children occur.

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