Putting A Stamp On AIDS
At least 20 Posts around the world have joined an initiative to issue stamps and other philatelic products to commemorate the landmark year. Participating Posts include: Belarus, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Croatia Post (Mostar), Fiji, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, New Caledonia, Malawi, Moldova, Pakistan, Slovakia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uruguay. The United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) is also issuing three stamps that will be sold in UN Offices in New York, Geneva and Vienna. For more information, visit the display at the UNPA counter in the General Assembly building in New York.
"Stamps - these formidable mini works of art - are noble ambassadors that leave important messages in the hands of all who receive mail," said Edouard Dayan, director general of the United Nations specialized agency for postal services. "The Universal Postal Union is proud that so many Posts have responded to our call to raise awareness of critical issues like HIV. Once again, this initiative goes to show the incredible outreach value of postal services worldwide."
Many stamps are being issued in June to coincide with the 2011 High Level Meeting on AIDS, taking place at the United Nations in New York from 8-10 June. The meeting will provide a platform for UN member states and partners to review progress and chart the future course of the global AIDS response.
"This is an excellent and important initiative to get people around the world talking about AIDS," said Michel Sidibé, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). "One of the greatest barriers in the AIDS response is the stigma and discrimination surrounding the disease. By initiating dialogue around HIV, these little stamps will play a big role in helping to break down some of those barriers."
While most Posts have designed their own stamps, others, like Ukrposhta, Ukraine's national postal service, have launched a national competition inviting artists to propose a stamp design on the theme of 30 years of AIDS. Ukraine's winning stamp will be issued on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2011.
The philatelic initiative is part of the global HIV-campaign launched in 2009 by the Universal Postal Union, UNAIDS, the International Labour Organization and UNI Global. The campaign relies on the global postal network's vast outreach to draw attention to the importance of HIV prevention.
More than 23,000 post offices around the world have carried out awareness campaigns using posters, postcards, a website and public events to inform people about HIV. The campaigns have potentially reached millions of people. In Cameroon alone, the Post estimates that campaign materials are viewed daily by 36,000 people.
This is the first time that Posts worldwide have made a concerted effort to draw attention to AIDS, but philately has been raising awareness about the disease for years. A quick survey of the UPU's World Numbering System reveals that more than 60 different AIDS themed stamps have been issued since 2002, when the database was created.
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