First Lady Akie Abe Speaks at UNAIDS and Lancet Commission

London, February 13, 2014

First Lady Akie Abe took part in her first meeting of the UNAIDS and Lancet Commission on “Defeating AIDS—Advancing Global Health” since she joined the commission in November 2013. She offered a moving speech about the importance of fighting stigma and discrimination against people with HIV and about her personal commitment to become a champion for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. A piece in the Lancet summed up the importance of her engagement, citing Japan as one of “a small group of countries that energetically exert their soft power through global health.”

FGFJ was pleased to have worked with the first lady during TICAD V, when we collaborated with the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on a panel discussion featuring First Lady Abe and several of her counterparts from Africa, entitled “Let’s Talk about AIDS: Africa and Japan’s Shared Challenges.” First Lady Abe later demonstrated her commitment to stand up for people affected by communicable diseases when she spoke at a gala reception co-organized by FGFJ, the Global Fund, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre. The reception was held on the opening night of South African opera company Isango’s Tokyo debut of La Bohème, which deals with the human toll of tuberculosis. She has become outspoken in her support for people infected with HIV and those considered at high risk by focusing on them first and foremost as people, deserving of love and acceptance just like anyone else. We look forward to continuing to support her efforts to, in the words of the Lancet’s Richard Horton, draw “attention to the way the global response to AIDS reflect[s] the value of human solidarity.”