Opinion Pieces Address Community Efforts To Prevent HIV, End Stigma, Recognize World AIDS Day

IPS: Community Efforts are Key When Addressing HIV/AIDS
Ifeanyi Nsofor, medical doctor, CEO of EpiAFRIC, and director of policy and advocacy for Nigeria Health Watch

“…The first of December is celebrated globally as World AIDS Day. The theme of the 2019 celebration is, “communities make the difference“. This reminds us to re-focus on the power of community as we try to end the HIV pandemic. … Here are four ways to bolster community efforts to ensure equity. First, eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV through peer programs. … Second, integrate HIV/AIDS programming into youth-friendly clinics that provide reproductive health services to women aged 15-24 years. … Third, prioritize HIV services for high-risk populations such as men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, and injection drug users. … Fourth, communities must protect the rights of high-risk populations, period…” (11/30).

Devex: Opinion: Step up the fight against HIV
Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

“In the fight against HIV, we are at a crucial stage. With the massive scale-up of antiretroviral treatment, we are saving millions of lives, but the total number of new HIV infections is still unacceptably high … [T]o cut new infections more swiftly we must tackle the stubbornly high rate of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women, and the extremely high prevalence of HIV among key populations. These two are driven by persistent gender and human rights-related barriers. … We will also only beat HIV if we continue to innovate and accelerate the pace with which successful innovations are scaled up to benefit all those who need them. … We also need to step up investment in capturing and interpreting data. … external assistance from the Global Fund or others like PEPFAR will not be enough. Governments in the affected countries must continue to increase their investments in fighting HIV and in health more generally…” (11/29).

The Hill: Stigma: The invisible barrier to solving the AIDS epidemic
Stephen S. Tang, president and CEO of OraSure Technologies

“…Thanks to advances in research … and treatment, AIDS is no longer considered a death sentence. … What is keeping them from diagnosis? Fear. Shame. Stigma. … Stigma is a dangerous byproduct of misinformation; and in many areas of the world, including right here in the United States, it keeps people away from diagnosis and care. … When people fear being ostracized, they are less likely to get tested and know their status. Erasing the stigma will go a long way toward erasing the disease. AIDS provides no reason for fear, discrimination or exclusion. Instead, its continued prevalence should motivate our renewed commitment to increased diagnosis and treatment and, most importantly, the extension of compassion, understanding and support to those who have this disease. … It will take a community of advocacy, support and care to end the AIDS epidemic — and the stigma that surrounds it” (12/1).