Policy makers told to engage the community in the war against HIV/AIDS
Madrid, Spain |Lilian Kaivilu|
Efforts in the prevention of HIV/AIDS are only going to bear fruit if stakeholders and policy makers fully engage community members and the grassroots in the fight against the epidemic.
Speaking in the sidelines of the ongoing HIV Research for Prevention conference held in Madrid, Maureen Luba, an advocate from the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) and Malawi Network of People Living with HIV (MANET+) said this was the only way that African governments are going to achieve results in the prevention of HIV.
According to her, there still exists a huge gap in the involvement of the grassroots in the policy making around HIV/AIDS prevention. “It is not about which product has more efficacy but at the end of the day, what matters most is to see that the needs of the community are being met,” said Luba.
Luba also challenged HIV/AIDS advocates to maintain a consistent link between policy makers and the community by ensuring that there is proper communication on new developments and findings in HIV prevention. “We are the representatives of the community and if we fail in this, then we will have missed our very important role as the link between the community and the policy makers,” she said.
HIVR4P co-chair and University of Zimbabwe lecturer Dr. Mike Chirenje emphasized on the need for policy makers and research institutions to have dialogues with the various governments in order to gain maximum results in HIV prevention. “There is especially need to reach selected groups, for instance those in prisons,” he said.
Miles to Go, the global AIDS report paints a notable progress towards the war against the disease, with three out of four people now aware of their status and 21.7 million people on treatment. Currently, there are 36.9 million people living with HIV across the globe. Eastern and Southern Africa alone accounts for more than half of this population.