Press Releases

    UNIS/NAR/871
    30 November 2004

    UNODC Executive Director in Beijing Warns about Links between Drugs and HIV/AIDS

    VIENNA, 30 November (UN Information Service) -- Today, in Beijing, China, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched the UNODC campaign on drug use and AIDS. The event is part of a two-day visit to China (30 November-1 December), during which Mr. Costa also addressed students at Beijing University, and met with HIV/AIDS patients.

    Mr. Costa is currently Chair of the UNAIDS Committee of Co-Sponsoring Organizations (CCO) -- a forum that makes policy and strategy decisions for UNAIDS. His visit to Beijing also marks World AIDS Day in a country where it is estimated that more than one million people have already been infected.

    “The world can no longer afford to ignore the enormity of the HIV epidemic,” said Mr. Costa. “The time has come to strike back at a killer that is transmitted by drug use and  sex, as well as by ignorance and denial. We have to talk openly to the people most likely to contract HIV/AIDS, especially young boys and girls. In China, thanks to responsible and concerned leadership, this kind of dialogue is now taking place,” he added. 

    It is estimated that China has three to five million drug users. One of the principal ways the HIV virus is transmitted is through injecting drug use: more than five million people worldwide have been infected with HIV through using contaminated needles. The virus is also sexually transmitted, frequently from a drug user to a partner. 

    Recent statistics indicate that young people between 15 and 24 represent more than half of all new HIV infections. The UNODC Executive Director delivered this message to 500 students at Beijing University: “You should be aware of the devastating implications of drug use. Drugs will destroy your life; they also propagate HIV/AIDS and destroy other people’s lives.”

    Mr. Costa also launched a new UNODC slogan, part of its public awareness campaign: “THINK BEFORE YOU START … BEFORE YOU SHOOT … BEFORE YOU SHARE.”

    UNODC is launching a campaign with video spots that link injecting drug use to the spread of HIV, and highlight the risk of unprotected sex. UNODC is distributing fact sheets, posters, and radio spots in more than 10 languages, offering information about the spread of HIV. The goal is to raise awareness about the relationship between drugs, sex, and HIV.

    For more information, please contact:

    Tim Carlsgaard
    Advocacy Section, UNODC
    Mobile: (+43) 664 654 1398

    * *** *