World AIDS Day, marked every year on 1 December, rallies support for people living with HIV and affected communities. The day provides a platform to recognise the progress made and to inspire continued action towards the goal of ending HIV worldwide – a goal that will not be achieved if tuberculosis (TB) prevention and care is not considered as part of that fight. This year, The Union participated in celebrations and events around the world.
In Myanmar, The Union joined 700 participants to walk the perimeter of Mandalay Palace, in an outward demonstration of support and solidarity. The theme of the day, ‘Hands up for #HIVPrevention’, focused conversation on how to prevent new HIV Infections through social change and empowerment. Participants wrote words and phrases on the palms of their hands to express what is needed to strengthen prevention efforts. Photos of these messages were shared across social media platforms and called for increased funding, better access to healthcare, an end to stigma and discrimination, and integrated services for TB and HIV.
The Union Office in Myanmar also attended a high-level meeting convened by the Minister of Health and Sports, which commemorated those who have dedicated their lives – as well as those whose lives have been lost – to HIV, and encouraged a scale-up of active collaboration between the Ministry and partners for better HIV prevention. The Union spoke with attendees and shared information about TB-HIV co-infection and its Integrated HIV Care Programme, run in partnership with the National AIDS Programme, at an information booth at the event.
In Zimbabwe, The Union joined in the national celebration held at Mbizo Stadium in Kwekwe, a city about 200 kilometres south of Harare. The country’s Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was the guest of honour at the event and welcomed thousands of attendees, including local and international government members, UN representatives and senior officers from the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Messages focusing on prevention were central themes in Zimbabwe as well, where the theme was ‘Closing the tap of new HIV infections’. The event hosted several talks from high ranking government officials and community activists who confirmed their commitment to prevention as a key strategy to bringing an end to AIDS. The Union Zimbabwe Office joined other non-profits and civil society organisations in the exhibition area where Union staff shared information and materials on TB and TB-HIV with the community.
For more information on The Union’s work in reducing TB through integrated TB-HIV activities, read the statement on World AIDS Day from José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union.