NCD Community Can Learn From HIV Prevention, Treatment Strategies

Project Syndicate: AIDS, NCDs, and the ABCs of Organizing
Kent Buse, chief of strategic policy directions at UNAIDS, and Laurel Sprague, executive director of the Global Network of People Living with HIV

“…As global attention focuses on [noncommunicable diseases (NCD)] prevention, those seeking to control preventable illnesses should look to the ‘ABCs’ of AIDS organizing for guidance. The first letter that the NCD community should consider is ‘A,’ for activism. … Next, the NCD community must adopt a bolder approach to budgets — the ‘B’ of the AIDS movement’s strategy. … ‘C’ is for coalitions: the AIDS movement was quick to understand that progress would come only with diverse support. … The AIDS movement also understood that a holistic response to the epidemic was essential. Thus, ‘D,’ the underlying determinants of health, was to draw attention to the interconnectivity of the drivers of challenge. … Engagement — ‘E’ — was what helped the AIDS movement become so influential. … Disease prevention movements must also develop persuasive narratives, and ‘F’ — framing the issue — was essential to the AIDS community’s effort to gain support from political leaders. … In the AIDS debate, gender — our movement’s ‘G’ — was a significant focal point. … Finally, ‘H’ — human rights — was the bedrock of the AIDS response. … The list of AIDS lessons could continue throughout the alphabet, but ending with ‘H’ is apt, given that human rights drove the response, and should drive the response to NCDs. Poverty, exclusion, and social and economic marginalization put people at higher risk for HIV. It is no different for NCDs. … The NCD and AIDS communities can learn from one another. We are a stronger movement when we join forces” (12/11).