Naomi Watts has witnessed huge progress in the treatment of the HIV /AIDS since becoming an UNAIDS goodwill ambassador in 2006. But the Academy Award-nominated British actress knows that this is not enough.
Why did you choose this particular fight?
When I first started working with UNAIDS the facts and numbers shocked me: So many people did not have access to treatment and the epidemic was fuelled by a lack of education and access to prevention measures. The AIDS epidemic often affects the most vulnerable in society — people who don’t have a voice — and I found I could help voice their needs.
Do you feel things have changed since you first got involved in 2006?
Yes, we’ve already seen the number of AIDS-related deaths fall by nearly 50 percent. We know how to prevent infection, and treatment is available for people living with HIV. The issue now is the fight to remove the stigma associated with HIV along with making sure everyone, everywhere can have access to accurate prevention information and access medications.
Do you think the goal of an HIV-free generation is achievable?
Yes, I really do. I have the privilege to work closely with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé on championing the new UNAIDS strategy, which aims to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. We can do this by “fast-tracking” the AIDS response, focusing on HIV in cities and other locations and on the most vulnerable groups. We should all be able to live in a world where no babies are born with HIV.
What is your message for the younger generation?
Show solidarity and don’t discriminate. Learn how to be smart and protect yourself but also understand what living with HIV means. Prevention is always better than treatment. Every effort, no matter how small, in this direction will contribute to helping us end the AIDS epidemic.