In DepthPUBLIC HEALTH

U.N. HIV/AIDS agency assailed for culture of harassment

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Science  14 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6420, pp. 1224
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6420.1224

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Summary

An independent panel that evaluated sexual harassment, bullying, and abuses of power at the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) issued a blistering report that called for a change in leadership to address what it called a "vacuum of accountability." UNAIDS, based in Geneva, Switzerland, is the global command center in the fight against HIV/AIDS, issuing authoritative epidemiological updates and staging campaigns to improve prevention and treatment—and, ironically, to promote human rights. But the panel report says there's a "boy's club" culture at UNAIDS, and it strongly faults the executive director, Michel Sidibé, for fostering a patriarchal environment that is marred further by nepotism and retaliation against employees who complain. Sidibé requested that the panel convene after two staffers were accused of sexual harassment and there was criticism of his handling of the incidents. The Programme Coordinating Board that oversees UNAIDS is meeting this week and reviewing the panel's recommendations.