Visited centre for people affected by HIV
On Thursday morning, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit met with employees, volunteers and users of the DC Center for the LGBT Community in Washington, D.C. The Crown Princess is visiting the city in connection with AIDS 2012, the XIX International AIDS Conference.
The users of the centre come primarily from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the D.C. metropolitan area. During her visit, the Crown Princess learned about the wide-ranging support activities conducted by the centre with regard to medical treatment as well as psychosocial care.
The Crown Princess herself has worked as a volunteer at Aksept in Oslo, the Norwegian community centre for people affected by HIV. Aksept celebrated its 25th anniversary in June, and in her keynote address at the Red Ribbon Award ceremony on Wednesday she described Aksept as a crucial resource from a political as well as a human perspective:
But most of all – Aksept is a place where people can be free of stigma and discrimination in their everyday lives. One of my friends there expressed it this way: Sometimes I feel like I am regarded just as the one who is HIV positive. At Aksept, I am allowed to be myself, the whole of me , said the Crown Princess in her remarks in Washington, D.C.
Invited to a working luncheon
Following her visit to the DC Center, Crown Princess Mette-Marit attended a panel discussion entitled Where is the data? on funding for youth-led AIDS activities, an area in which she has been actively involved.
The Norwegian embassy in Washington, D.C. hosted a working luncheon on youth leadership at which the Crown Princess was the guest of honour. Some 20 young people from around the world gathered together to discuss how to improve the synergy between the various measures that have been implemented in recent years. The purpose is to ensure that future activities are effectively coordinated in order to achieve unified targets.
The discussion reviewed the progression of activities from the Young Leaders Summit on AIDS held in Oslo in 2009, which was hosted by the Crown Princess among others, to activities related to the new UNAIDS strategy on youth.
Launching of a new fund
Later in the afternoon, the Crown Princess met with a small group of HIV positive youth from different parts of the world. A key topic of the discussion was their role in the effort to combat AIDS and how they can help to promote a more positive trend. In her role as UNAIDS Special Representative, the Crown Princess has put special focus on achieving the involvement of young people as leaders in AIDS activities. According to figures from UNAIDS, almost half of all people who have recently contracted the disease are under the age of 25.
Young people are ready to challenge the silos and taboos that still surround HIV in our families and communities This is why I believe young people should get more space for leadership, more public attention and more substantial funding, said Crown Princess Mette-Marit in her speech on Wednesday.
The programme on Thursday concluded with the launching of the Robert Carr Fund, a cooperative effort between UNAIDS and the U.S. Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The funding will be used to support the various grassroots efforts being carried out in local communities.
The King and Queen opened the new MUNCH
"I think that I speak for all of us when I say that we have been looking forward to this day! It is finally possible for us to gather together, and soon the great doors will open up a new attraction – not just for our capital city, but for Norway, and for the world," said His Majesty The King.
Congratulations from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Alar Karis, President of the Republic of Estonia.