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World Aids Day observed in Switzerland

Anti-Aids campaigners in Geneva stressed the use of condoms during World Aids Day


The people of Switzerland marked World Aids Day on Friday with a series of rallies and messages of solidarity to those afflicted by HIV and Aids.

Marches were held in several cities including Bern, Basel, Fribourg, Geneva, Sion and Zurich, with the rally in Geneva followed by an inter-denominational religious service.

All official cars in Bern carried the red ribbon, a symbol of solidarity with HIV/Aids sufferers.

The federal health office published a statement in the press reminding the public that Aids was an everyday phenomenon, which was "taking lives every day".

The Swiss Aids Federation set up stands in a number of towns and cities. The president, Adolf Ogi, went to one of the stands in Bern to express his support for the federation's work.

Under the title of "Men make a difference", World Aids Day in Switzerland concentrated on trying to convince men to avoid unprotected sex, and drew attention to the large number of men - an estimated 2.2 per cent of the population - who visit prostitutes.

A recent survey showed that men had unprotected sex with prostitutes 450 times a day in Switzerland.

The Swiss National Science Foundation used World Aids Day to call for more research on the social issues surrounding HIV/Aids, as more effective therapies push the disease out of the spotlight.

In its annual publication on HIV/Aids research in Switzerland, the Foundation highlighted the changing nature of the disease in developed countries.

It said that while multi-drug therapies have enabled thousands of people infected with HIV to lead near-normal lives, they are in danger of encouraging a laxer attitude to safe sex.

The Foundation also says that, while the number of sexual or intravenous infections has fallen overall, there is still a high rate of infection among vulnerable or marginalised social groups.

Research focusing on prevention is therefore one of the Foundation's priorities, together with work on the concrete problems faced by people living with HIV/Aids and their families and friends.

swissinfo with agencies

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