United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Michel Kazatchkine as his Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, one of only two regions in the world where HIV is continuing to grow.
Kazatchkine is an internationally-recognized physician who has devoted 30 years of his professional life to the AIDS response, most recently as the Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, according to the announcement issued by Ban's office.
"As Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Mr. Kazatchkine will use his vast experience to help turn the trajectory of the epidemic in the region," the announcement stated.
In 2011, there were 1.5 million people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and 170,000 people were newly infected with the virus.
New infections have risen by more than 22 per cent in the region since 2005 and there is no sign that the epidemics are slowing down, noted the announcement, adding that "it is therefore critical to strengthen, at the highest levels, advocacy efforts in the region."
Kazatchkine has also served as Director of the French National Agency for AIDS Research and also served as France's Global Ambassador for HIV and Communicable Diseases.
Last week Ban appointed former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro as his Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, which remains the continent most affected by HIV, according to the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
In 2010, about 68 per cent of all people living with HIV resided in sub-Saharan Africa. The region also accounted for 70 per cent of all new HIV infections worldwide.