How Korea’s transformation could help strengthen global response to HIV

31 October 2013

In recent years the Republic of Korea has transformed into a leading global powerhouse. It is the first major recipient of overseas development aid to become an important overseas donor itself and has become a model for economic and development progress.

Today, the Republic of Korea has one of the world’s largest global economies and is an active member of both the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In a bid to learn from its experience and to use the lessons to further the global response to HIV, Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS made an important visit to the country to meet with some of the country’s leading political figures.

“Africa needs a knowledge economy and one of the best examples comes from the Republic of Korea,” said Mr Sidibé. “Korea can play a key role in helping countries in Asia and Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.”

During a meeting with the Deputy Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs,  Shin Dong-ik, Mr Sidibé highlighted the urgent need to extend access to HIV services to everyone in need. He also emphasised the historic opportunity to create an AIDS-free generation by preventing new HIV infections among children through increasing access to low-cost antiretroviral medicines and strengthening maternal-child health services. These global efforts, he said, needed the full support of the Republic of Korea to succeed. The Deputy Foreign Minister confirmed the Republic of Korea’s commitment to the AIDS response and to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) including MDG 6.

Joining Mr Sidibé on the visit was Han Young Sil, former president of Sookmyung Women's University and Special Advisor to UNAIDS Executive Director. She said that, "Past experience of Korean community empowerment was key for business and social transformation."

During his visit Mr. Sidibé also met with UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador,  Myung-Bo Hong, Korean football star and Head Coach of the Korean National Football Team.  As part of his HIV prevention work Mr Hong is teaming up with other footballers around the globe to support UNAIDS ‘Protect the Goal’ campaign, which seeks to create an AIDS-free generation by preventing new HIV infections among children. 

“Mr Hong is a role model not just for youth but also for fans around the globe. His courage and support in mobilizing efforts for a world without HIV is invaluable,” said Mr Sidibé.