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Uganda’s Winnie Byanyima ‘excited’ to be returning to the UN as UNAIDS executive director

Winifred “Winnie” Byanyima, a former Ugandan politician and the current head of the humanitarian group Oxfam International, was appointed the new executive director of the U.N. AIDS agency on Wednesday.

“I am excited and honoured to be returning to the UN to lead and coordinate the global AIDS response at this critical moment. I am looking forward to joining the brilliant staff at UNAIDS,” the Ugandan humanitarian activist said on twitter.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, appointed Ms Byanyima as the UNAIDS Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General “following a comprehensive selection process” that involved a search committee constituted by members of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board, said the statement.

African Union Commission chairperson, Moussa Faki, has extended his “warmest congratulations” to Winnie_Byanyima on her appointment as the new Executive Director of UNAIDS. In a tweet he said, “The African Union looks forward to working with her to increase equitable access to treatment and care as we continue the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.”

Ms Byanyima began her career as a champion of marginalized communities and women 30 years ago as a member of parliament in the National Assembly of Uganda.

She became the Director of Women and Development at the African Union Commission, in 2004, working on the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, an international human rights instrument that became an important tool for reducing the disproportionate effect of HIV on the lives of women in Africa.

Currently she is the executive director of Oxfam International, to which she was appointed in May 2013. Before that, she equally served as the director of the Gender Team in the Bureau for Development Policy at the United Nations Development Programme from 2006.

UNAIDS is leading the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Since the first cases of HIV were reported more than 35 years ago, 78 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses. Since it started operations in 1996, UNAIDS has led and inspired global, regional, national and local leadership, innovation and partnership to ultimately consign HIV to history.

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