01 December 2016, Geneva, Switzerland - Today is World AIDS Day, it is a moment for us to reflect on the amazing achievements we have made and the millions of lives that were saved, but also on the future needs if we want to END AIDS by 2030. On this World AIDS Day, I have just two statements to make:
1. As humanity, we will not be able to end AIDS if we do not end TB. TB kills one in four people living with HIV and in the African region, co-infection rates can be as high as 80%. We will either be successful together or we will fail together.
2. The people who are affected the most, suffering the most, are those who belong to the most vulnerable groups, not just in the face of HIV/AIDS or TB, but in the face of any disease, in the face of life and death. All of our efforts and everything we do should start and end with them in the center.
If we want to strengthen HIV or TB prevention, if we want to bolster diagnosis and treatment, if we want to ensure adherence, we must allow the people and the communities to lead. We must allow them to decide for themselves, to develop programs and implement and monitor them as they see fit. We should be there to support them where needed, but they should be the ones leading, on their own terms and at their own rhythm and pace.
If we want to see gender equality, equity, respect for human rights. If we want to see sustainability, tolerance and respect for everyone, we need to make sure that the ones affected are leading, deciding and evaluating. We can prevent HIV and TB, we can ensure access to services for everyone, we can end stigma and discrimination, we can ensure adherence to treatment for as long as needed, if we leave those affected by these diseases in charge. And we, the rest of us, should listen, understand and support. Together.
With kindest regards,
Dr Lucica Ditiu
Stop TB Partnership