12-year-old Elijah Zachary Lamaiyan Simel meets President Uhuru Kenyatta after  delivering the opening remarks at a United Nations conference on AIDS. Elijah, who is living with HIV, received a standing ovation from delegates at the UNGAS conference.

In Summary

  • He received a standing ovation from hundreds of delegates after delivering the opening remarks at a United Nations conference on AIDS on Sunday.
  • President Kenyatta responded to Elijah’s remarks during his own speech to the audience of diplomats, medical professionals and AIDS activists from around the world.
  • Elijah had been invited to speak at an event keyed to the Sustainable Development  Goals, which were adopted at a UN Summit meeting on Friday.

A 12-year-old Kenyan boy with HIV received a standing ovation from hundreds of delegates after delivering the opening remarks at a United Nations conference on AIDS on Sunday.”We are children, we have rights, we have a future,” Elijah Zachary Lamaiyan Simel, a student at Nyawai Academy in Nairobi, told the UN event on Ending AIDS by 2030 that was co-chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“Presidents, thank you for making the promise to end AIDS by 2030. Please keep your promise,” he told the leaders in attendance. Elijah added that an essential step in combating the epidemic is to erase the stigma attached to those with HIV.”The mother of my best friend told him not to play with me and that made me very sad,” Elijah said. President Kenyatta responded to Elijah’s remarks during his own speech to the audience of diplomats, medical professionals and AIDS activists from around the world.

BRAVE YOUNG MAN

“Today, young Kenyan boy has taken the lead,” President Kenyatta said, referring to Elijah as “a brave young man and an advocate, a champion of young people throughout the world living with HIV.” Wearing a bow tie and dark suit with a red HIV and AIDS ribbon on his lapel, Elijah made his comments with a smiling poise while standing beside his mother, Evelyn Simaloi. He said his dream is to have earned a doctorate in science by 2030, when he will be 27 years old. Elijah had been invited to speak at an event keyed to the Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted at a UN Summit meeting.

They include, among their targets, an end to the AIDS epidemic globally within 15 years.

PERSONALLY COMMITTED

President Kenyatta noted in his speech that he is “personally committed to Kenya becoming the first country in Africa to control the AIDS epidemic.”Outlining initiatives to achieve that objective, the Kenyan leader said that anti-retroviral medicines must continue to be available at affordable prices.

Kenya will advocate for that outcome at the World Trade Organization summit which will be held in Nairobi in December 2015, he added. President Kenyatta noted that as part of Kenya’s efforts to combat the epidemic he recently established an HIV situation room within the government. It gives easy access to the status of progress in investing in HIV and health in general, the president said.

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