By Yahir Zavaleta, HIV Programme Director, Espolea
When we were first informed of the selection of Espolea as a recipient of the Red Ribbon Award (RRA), we were jumping up and down with excitement. We then realized the many young people that we still need to impact and all those that we haven’t reached out to just yet. We thought of the unfinished activities, the passionate discussions with other organizations and policy makers, and the never sufficient workshops with peers. We were happy but also realized the long path that still lies before us.
As every two years, UNAIDS (UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS) and other partners, recognize outstanding community leadership and actions in the response to HIV and AIDS. This year, Espolea has the honor of standing between nine other organizations including The Help (Myanmar), Foundation SEROvie (Haiti), Afraye Sabz Association (Iran), Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (Kenya), Positive Women’s Network (Sri Lanka), Patients in Control (Russia), Delhi Network of Positive People (India), Giramatsiko Post Test Club (Uganda), and the Global Youth Coalition against AIDS (Egypt).
All of the above mentioned organizations have the common mission of empowerment and sharing of best practices with peers and key affected communities. However, and more importantly, these organizations represent recognition of the fundamental relevance of community-based work at the heart of the global AIDS response. It provides valuable examples of innovative and sustainable methods employed across the world to further prevention, human rights, care and support of people living with HIV and the elimination of stigma and discrimination.
In order to showcase these experiences, RRA awardees get the chance to share our projects and ideas at the Community Dialogue Space (CDS) within the XIX International AIDS Conference (IAC). This becomes of particular relevance when we know -despite the optimistic numbers provided in the recently launched yearly report on AIDS- that the world continues stagnated in a global economic crisis. In this context, the response to HIV has unavoidably been affected and thus requires of our best creativity to move forward.
In a world where universal access to treatment and care continues to be an unachieved and longed for goal, stigma and discrimination permeate among women, young people, sex workers, drug users, LGBTQ populations, Men who have sex with Men, indigenous and migrants. These are communities than more than ever must be loud and active! That’s the reason we will be addressing the sessions along 5 main categories: prevention of sexual transmission, prevention among people who use drugs, treatment, care and support, advocacy and human rights and stopping HIV new infections in children and keeping mothers alive.
We are ready to get started! Come by and pay the Community Dialogue Space (CDS) a visit, let us all learn from one another for better and more cost-effective/efficient policies, programs and projects.