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Access to Life Special Event with Miss Universe Riyo Mori

September 12, 2010
Access to Life Special Event with Miss Universe Riyo Mori
(Photo credits: Asahi Shimbun)
(Photo credits: Asahi Shimbun)

Over 60 participants gathered on September 12, 2010, to hear a special guest talk by Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori. At the talk, Ms. Mori spoke about her work as a global spokesperson for HIV/AIDS awareness and her insights about what youth from Japan and the rest of the world can do to help join in the global fight against these deadly diseases. This event was the second in a series of gallery talk sessions organized in conjunction with the Global Fund’s photo exhibition Access to Life at the Asahi Gallery in Tokyo.

The first time Ms. Mori heard of HIV/AIDS was when she was a high school student in Japan. She recalled being frustrated by the lack of information, and how she wanted to learn more.

After winning the Miss Universe crown in 2007, Ms. Mori was appointed a spokeswoman for the HIV/AIDS cause. In her struggle to gain knowledge about HIV/AIDS, Ms Mori explained that she was shocked to learn specifics about the disease, including the number of people infected, and was surprised at how little she learned about HIV/AIDS growing up in Japan. During her 14-month tenure as spokeswoman, she traveled the world participating in education and awareness-building activities. She noted that the photographs on exhibit reminded her of the profoundly moving experience of meeting actual people living with HIV/AIDS in person, including mothers and young girls, and hearing about their struggle.

She stressed that HIV is preventable with the right education, and explained that while the serious and rigid manner in which information is disseminated in Japan needs to be reconsidered, it is very important for young people in their teens and 20s to have accurate knowledge. Ms. Mori remains a passionate global advocate speaking out against the spread of AIDS. She stressed that even the actions of one individual can have great effects, and that, by acting together, young people can make a big difference to raise awareness about these important issues.