FGFJ Reflects on 40 Years of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic for World AIDS Day 2023

November 30, 2023
Tokyo, Japan

2023 marks 40 years since the discovery of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Over the last four decades, AIDS has spread throughout the world and remains a pandemic to this day.

Friends of the Global Fund, Japan (FGFJ) is collaborating with a public theatre in Tokyo to put on a Japanese production of the Broadway award-winning play, “The Inheritance,” which tells the story of three generations of gay people and their day-to-day joys, love, and struggles with HIV/AIDS and discrimination.

To commemorate this play’s production in Japan, FGFJ held a public seminar in Tokyo, Japan ahead of World AIDS Day on November 30, 2023. The seminar brought together the leading actor of the play and a mixture of Japanese and overseas HIV experts and representatives of the HIV community to shed light on HIV, gender, and LGBTQ+ issues and also raise awareness about Japan’s engagement with the Global Fund.

Session #1


During the first session, the panel discussed the Japanese production of “The Inheritance,” a play set in New York that portrays three generations of gay men and their struggle with HIV/AIDS. Seiji Fukushi, who plays the lead role in the play, shared his perspective on the six-and-a-half-hour play’s exploration of love and the salon-type gatherings his character hosts, drawing a contrast to the play “Rent” and the evolution of HIV/AIDS treatment. Mr. Yuzuru Ikushima provided insights into the HIV/AIDS landscape in Japan, noting the challenges faced by the MSM community, the progress in treatment enabling an almost undetectable presence of the virus, and the exacerbated difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. The dialogue touched upon the transformative power of theater in fostering empathy and addressing societal prejudices, with Mr. Fukushi likening the social halt caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to the early days of the AIDS crisis and stressing the importance of communication in overcoming bias. The session concluded with a call to inherit the lessons learned from HIV/AIDS and to aspire toward a more accepting society.

Session #2

ImageIn the second session, Motoko Seko and Quarraisha Abdool Karim highlighted the enduring struggle with HIV/AIDS in Africa and acknowledged Japan’s vital support through the Global Fund. Dr. Karim pointed to PreP as a revolutionary step in HIV prevention, despite the concerning rates of infection among young women in sub-Saharan Africa. Reflecting on the gender disparities in infection revealed by epidemiological studies, she emphasized the need for women-initiated preventive technologies and the importance of community engagement to bridge the knowledge gap. The discussion also addressed the challenges in treatment efficacy for women due to biological factors, stressing the importance of inclusive biomedical interventions and societal change towards gender equity. Concluding the session, Dr. Abdool Karim expressed gratitude for the global solidarity epitomized by Japanese contributions to the Global Fund, reinforcing the idea that shared responsibility is key in the global health landscape.

Session #3

ImageIn the third session, MC Haruka Sakamoto led a discussion featuring four panelists who tackled the complex landscape of HIV/AIDS and a video message from Ms. Maurine Murenga. Mr. Ryuhei Kawada recounted his personal battle with HIV, highlighting the transformative power of legal action and treatment in Japan and the need for creating supportive social frameworks. Mr. Jun Sugihara spoke of the necessity for combining domestic policies with international aid, while the Global Fund’s Dianne Stewart shared her experiences from the early days of the epidemic in South Africa, stressing the need to educate youth and address the persistent stigma around HIV. Mr. Charles Gore shared the successes of the Medicines Patent Pool in reducing medication costs and the importance of small contributions to significant changes.

Image The session touched on Japan’s continuous support of the Global Fund, emphasizing its contributions to global health and the need for continued solidarity and support. The panelists agreed on the urgency of addressing the challenges posed by crises, with the Global Fund ensuring the provision of HIV treatment against all odds. The discussion concluded by recognizing the power of community leadership, the significance of patient-centered policymaking, and global cooperation in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS.


*For more information about this event, please visit the FGFJ website