The former US first lady said: “Together, we can create an Aids-free future – a world where every girl and every young woman can live a healthier life and pursue a future worthy of her dreams.”
More than £1m has already been raised for the Elton John AIDS Foundation to support programmes providing testing for HIV, and making sure those in need get access to treatment in six key cities around the world.
“I believe that every young woman, in every part of the world, deserves a chance to fulfil her boundless potential,” Ms Obama said.
“It’s why I’ve worked so hard to make sure more girls can get access to an education that can change their lives. It’s why I work to support and inspire women and girls at home and abroad. And it’s why I’m answering the call from my friend, Elton John, to help create an Aids-free future.”
She added: “Today, women and girls make up more than half of all people living with HIV.
“It’s up to all of us to help these young women – and everyone around the world – to take steps to protect themselves against this disease and prevent infection in the first place.
“It means getting the word out. Right now, one in four people living with HIV don’t know they’re infected yet.
“It means breaking through the stigma that stops too many people from getting tested. And it means rallying support for these women and girls from people all over the world.”
Celebrating The Independent’s Christmas appeal, she said: “I hope you’ll take part in the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s AIDSfree campaign because this is a disease we can prevent. It’s a disease we can test for and treat. It’s a cycle we can break. Over the course of my lifetime, we’ve seen great progress. And that’s why I know that together, we can create an Aids-free future – a world where every girl and every young woman can live a healthier life and pursue a future worthy of her dreams.”
Globally, 37 million people are living with HIV, a figure that rose by 1.8 million people last year. In the UK, 15 people are infected every day on average.
Although HIV medical care is often both effective and affordable, about 25 per cent of people living with HIV don’t know their status because they haven’t been tested.
Funds raised by the AIDSfree appeal will support projects in London, Atlanta, Kiev, Nairobi, Delhi and Maputo. All public donations are matched pound for pound by the government’s UK Aid Match scheme.
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