Two UNAIDS Ambassadors have taken part in a dialogue with students at Peking University Health Science Center about the need to reach zero discrimination to end the AIDS epidemic and ensure better health for all.
The First Lady of Panama, Lorena Castillo de Varela, who is UNAIDS Special Ambassador for AIDS in Latin America, and the famous actor and humanitarian, Huang Xiaoming, who is UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for China, spoke about their commitment to reducing stigma and discrimination at the event on 24 April. The Vice President of Peking University Professor Zhan Qimin opened the dialogue.
During a lively discussion between the two Ambassadors, the First Lady encouraged young people to integrate their anti-discrimination efforts into their everyday actions. “Just that smile, even though it might look very small to you, it can make another human-being feel special, not discriminated or different, ” said Madam Castillo.
She also stressed that the young generation’s role in taking the lead and empowering the voiceless. She said: “I want to use this platform to send messages to all the universities in the world, they should all follow your lead too, and give voices to those who have no voices, be the voice for them, let them know that there’s somebody somewhere sending them love, fighting for them.”
r Huang explained what had motivated him to start working on zero discrimination and become a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador.
“I had seen children who suffered from discrimination related to HIV. Their inner repression, touched me and made me start to think about how I could help them. Of course, discrimination is not limited to just children. So when I learned that UNAIDS had the goal of ending AIDS worldwide by 2030, I was very excited and willing to do my best for this goal.”
A piece of advice to young people from Mr. Huang moved everyone in the meeting hall. He quoted a line from the movie "Wonder ": "when given the choice of being right and being kind, choose kind.’ I believe it is important to be kind to everyone. It is particularly important to keep our minds clear and objective and to uphold justice and truth."
Dr. Ran Wei, representative of UNAIDS, thanked the two ambassadors for their tireless efforts championing zero discrimination and urged students to follow their lead.
“It is not only a responsibility but also a privilege for youth to fight for a world that’s healthy, just and free from discrimination，”said Dr. Wei.
UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Nicolas Rosellini attended the event，stressing the importance working together to achieve ending AIDS by 2030.
China has made significant progress in reducing the impact of the AIDS epidemic, reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths in the country and boosting efforts to reduce the number of new HIV infections, for example by expanding successful harm reduction programmes for people who inject drugs.
The First Lady of Panama visited China by invitation from the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries(CPAFFC). Peking University Health Science Center, UNAIDS and CPAFFC co-organized First Lady and Huang Xiaoming’s visit to Peking University Health Science Center.