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World AIDS Day 2017

My health, my right

“On this World AIDS Day, UNESCO and the UNAIDS Joint Programme join together to call for a world where every woman and man is able to realize the highest attainable standard of health, free from stigma and discrimination.

For this, we must ensure the right to quality education for all, because these two goals – health and education – go hand in hand. This linkage stands at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UNAIDS 2016-2021 Strategy.

As outlined in UNESCO’s Strategy on Education for Health and Well-Being: Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals, health and education are mutually reinforcing: healthy learners learn better, and better-educated learners are healthier.”

    UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay


This year’s World AIDS Day campaign, My Health, My Right, focuses on the right to health, the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The campaign reminds people that the right to health is much more than access to quality health services and medicines, but depends on a range of important assurances including, access to good quality comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and safe and inclusive learning environments.

CSE, of which HIV prevention is a core component, is a critical intervention in efforts to end AIDS as a public health threat and to enable young people to reduce their risk of HIV infection. It is also a critical intervention for promoting sexual and reproductive health, gender equality and healthy relationships, all of which can positively affect education and health outcomes.

Furthermore, CSE helps build young people’s awareness and knowledge of their rights, such as their right to access HIV testing, treatment and care that is free from stigma and discrimination. Young people have to know their rights in order to be able to stand up for them. Standing up for the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, means challenging discriminatory laws and policies, which prevent young people from accessing the sexual and reproductive healthcare services they need, such as age-related barriers to HIV testing, or laws that criminalize homosexuality.

UNESCO is committed to promoting young people’s mutually reinforcing right to health and education through the new “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future” programme. Together with Sweden, UNESCO will support the delivery of accurate, rights-based and good quality CSE programmes that provide the skills, knowledge and attitudes required for preventing HIV, reducing early and unintended pregnancies and eliminating gender based violence. The programme, launched in Paris on 3 November 2017, expands on existing work in Eastern & Southern Africa through the ESA Commitment, with new projects in West & Central Africa.

UNESCO, as a member of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), is committed to strengthening support for Member States to deliver health education that enables young people to know their rights and that promotes overall well-being, good quality education and health outcomes for all.


Find out about the #MyRightToHealth campaign for World AIDS Day 2017

Background documents