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Winnie Byanyima 'honoured' to be UNAIDS executive director

NEW ROLE: Winnie Byanyima has been appointed executive director of UNAIDS (Image: UNAIDS)

WINNIE BYANYIMA has said she is “honoured” to be asked to lead the UN and global response to HIV as the new UNAIDS executive director.

Byanyima, who is leaving her role as executive director of Oxfam, was publicly appointed to the UNAIDS position yesterday.

A former Ugandan politician, Byanyima has more than 30 years’ experience in the political leadership, diplomacy and humanitarian engagement.

She said: “I am honoured to be joining UNAIDS as the executive director at such a critical time in the response to HIV.

“The end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 is a goal that is within the world’s reach, but I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead. Working with all its partners, UNAIDS must continue to speak up for the people left behind and champion human rights as the only way to end the epidemic.”

Byanyima was appointed to the role by UN secretary-general António Guterres. She will lead the joint UN programme which aims to eliminate HIV infections, discrimination and AIDS-related deaths.

An advocate of marginalised communities and women, Byanyima served as Oxfam executive director since 2013. Her previous humanitarian experience includes working as the director of gender and development at the United Nations Development Programme. She has also served as the director of women and development at the African Union Commission.

Dr Henrietta Campbell, chair of Oxfam board of supervisors, said: “On behalf of the Oxfam International Secretariat and our global confederation, I thank our international executive director Winnie Byanyima for her leadership, energy and commitment to our mission in tackling poverty and inequality. Whilst it is with much regret to us that Winnie is leaving Oxfam, we wish her every success in this new and highly prestigious role as UNAIDS executive director.”

Byanyima’s departure from the international development charity comes as it continues to regain trust after last years' sexual exploitation scandal.

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