A love without labels

(The views and opinions expressed in interviews or commentaries are those of the interviewees and contributors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of UNAIDS)

UNAIDS #LoveWithoutLabels campaign, which celebrates everyone’s right to choose their sexual identity and partners ends on 31 May. On the last day of the #LoveWithoutLabels campaign, we speak with a Filipino couple, Darren Eleazar Perez and Jeffry Acaba. Darren is a master’s degree student in Media and Communications and Jeff is the Education and Advocacy Lead of Youth LEAD, a regional network of young key populations. Both men are based in Bangkok, Thailand.

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#LoveWithoutLabels campaign

#LoveWithoutLabels is a campaign that recognizes and celebrates everyone’s right to choose their sexual identity and partners. Stigma and discrimination continue to affect many people who identify themselves outside of the gender binary. As a result, they are apprehensive, unsure and, at times, afraid to express themselves freely and show emotional and physical affection towards their partners. This stigma also leads to many people keeping their sexual and gender identities a secret and avoiding testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases including HIV.

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COLOMBO, 2 May 2016—The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) welcomes a decision by Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court to prohibit HIV discrimination in education settings.

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It’s a year since Nepal was hit by a devastating earthquake which killed more than 8 000 people. The lesbian gay bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community  was particularly affected by the disaster. The Blue Diamond Society is dedicated to improving the sexual health, well-being and human rights of sexual minorities in Nepal and has about 218,000 members throughout the country. UNAIDS speaks to Manisha Dhakal, Executive Director of the Blue Diamond Society.

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We hear a lot about cyber stalking and cyber violence and the dangers of social media for young people in relationships. However an entrepreneurial young group from India is exploiting the power of Snapchat, a popular smartphone app among teenagers, to provide counselling to young women and men in abusive relationships on the sub-continent. They are Avani Parekh, Nida Sheriff and  Rajshekar Patil.  The threesome created an account called lovedoctordotin in September 2014 and have been providing counselling services ever since. To date the hotline has answered more than 47,000 questions about relationships, love and sexual health.

UNAIDS caught up with Avani, Nida and Raj over skype recently. Avani is the founder of LoveDoctor (www.lovedoctor.in) and is a trained counselor with more than eight years of experience in counseling on domestic abuse and sexual assault. Nida is the manager of Chayn India which is a web platform for women experiencing domestic violence and Raj is an advertising creative director with TBWA\India.

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(The views and opinions expressed in interviews or commentaries are those of the interviewees and contributors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of UNAIDS)

31 March is International Day of Transgender Visibility, which celebrates the achievements of transgender people as well as raises awareness of the discrimination and challenges the community can face. Employment is an area where there is often discrimination, but there are increasing openings for transgender people in a wide range of professions and management positions.

UNAIDS showcases this progress by catching up with one transgender professional from the Philippines who is breaking the glass ceiling in the corporate world. Born as John Paul Ortega, PeeJay is a transgender woman in her early thirties. She is a manager with Convergys Philippines, which is a leading business process outsourcing company. At work, PeeJay is fondly known as Mandee. Read More

A River Runs with Her

The 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women is taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 14-24 March. The session is looking at women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development. In Southeast Asia, the Mekong River is a vast waterway with a diverse range of cultures. Christine McNab is a Canadian who has been living in Bangkok for several years. This year, she’s working on a project to highlight the lives of women who live along the Mekong River.

UNAIDS spoke to Christine about her personal decision to launch this photography project and the stories she has uncovered so far.

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Innovative multi-sectoral approaches are urgently needed to achieve equitable and sustainable access to lifesaving medicines, diagnostics and vaccines, said experts at a regional consultation from 15-17 March in Bangkok.

More than 75 participants from nine Asian countries attended the three-day meeting at the United Nations Conference Centre, including representatives from government, civil society and development partners. The ‘Regional Expert Consultation on Access to Affordable Medicines, Diagnostics and Vaccines’ was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV (APN+) and the Asia Pacific Coalition of AIDS Service Organisations (APCASO).

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