Feature Story

Mother’s Day – Hope for mothers and children affected by HIV

12 May 2014

On 11 May 2014, many countries around the world celebrated Mother’s Day. In Geneva, Switzerland, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Hotel InterContinental Genève marked the day with the opening of an inspiring exhibition of children’s art. The event was part of efforts to raise awareness and support to stop new HIV infections among children and ensure their mothers remain alive and well.

The exhibition, featuring unique drawings and paintings by young artists aged between 5 and 16 years living with or affected by HIV from Ukraine, provided an opportunity to highlight the urgent need to increase efforts to keep children free from HIV.

One of the children whose artwork was included in the exhibition was 16 year old Sofia Pinchuk. She is one of the adolescents under the care of a UNICEF-supported non-governmental organization called The Way Home, in Odessa. “The artwork is a reminder that the hopes and dreams of children and adolescents everywhere are the same,” said Sofia.

Sergej Kostin, Director of The Way Home said, "For this event, I asked some of the children and adolescents we care for in Odessa to create art reflecting what a home or family means to them.” In the captions to the pictures some of the children wrote that they dreamt of becoming footballers, teachers, writers, dancers or artists. But many simply dreamt of having a united family and a home.

Despite global progress and unprecedented investment in eliminating new HIV infections among children and reducing maternal deaths, much more needs to be done to ensure that the world reaches the 2015 goal of providing critical HIV services to 90% of pregnant women living with HIV. 

“Today more than 2 million adolescents in the world are living with HIV. But an AIDS-free generation is within reach.  We have the tools, we know what needs to be done,” said Marie Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. “As we celebrate all mothers in the world, let us commit to building a better world, one of sharing and solidarity. And let us start by giving a voice and a future to children.”

“HIV affects children and adolescents all over the world,” said Mahesh Mahalingam, UNAIDS Director of the Office of the Director of Programme. “We hope that this artwork will encourage you to take a closer look at the world of children and adolescents living with and affected by HIV—a poignant reminder of our shared responsibility to make sure they are not left behind.”

Jurgen Baumhoff, General Manager of the InterContinental Hotel Genève said, “We—the staff and guests of the InterContinental Hotel Genève—feel honored to be engaged in and to be able to support the HIV response. The courage and resilience of these young artists inspires us all to continue to support efforts to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep mother’s alive.”

The event, part of the joint UNAIDS and the Hotel InterContinental Genève campaign ‘Where History is Made’, also provided an opportunity to launch two new videos—‘Celebrating Birthdays’ a UNAIDS video in support of millions of mothers and children living with or affected by HIV—and and also a reminder of the global campaign “Getting to Zero” for an AIDS-Free generation.

Proceeds from the event will go towards UNAIDS and UNICEF’s joint work in stopping new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive.