World AIDS Day 2019
World AIDS Day, held each year on December 1, is an opportunity to celebrate and support global and local efforts to prevent new HIV infections, increase HIV awareness and knowledge, and support those living with HIV.
Since World AIDS Day was first observed more than 30 years ago, progress to prevent and treat HIV has been extraordinary. HIV medicines are available to help people with HIV live long, healthy lives and prevent HIV transmission. In addition, effective HIV prevention methods, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), are available.
This year’s theme ‘Communities Make the Difference’ recognized the essential role that communities have played and continue to play in the AIDS response at the international, national and local levels.
Communities contribute to the AIDS response in many different ways. Their leadership and advocacy ensure that the response remains relevant and grounded, keeping people at the centre and leaving no one behind. Communities include peer educators, networks of people living with or affected by HIV, such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers, women and young people, counsellors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers, civil society organizations and grass-roots activists.
The National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP), Ministry of Health, spearheads the national response to HIV/AIDS in Sri Lanka with FPA Sri Lanka and other partner organisations in order to End AIDS by 2025.
Particularly through our Sustainability of Key Populations in Asia (SKPA) project, the aim is to promote sustainable services for key population members, scale-up of outreach work and improve key population members’ access to prevention, testing and treatment and retention in the service cascade. Also to strengthen advocacy efforts, community response systems and address barriers to access, including addressing stigma and discrimination and other human rights- and gender-related barriers to services.
A week long social media campaign was carried out with the participation of peer educators, case finders, people living with HIV, community members and the Global Fund Project staff to share facts on HIV and AIDS, to encourage testing for HIV and STI, accessing treatment so that all people living with HIV can lead healthy and productive lives and to breakdown stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS.
The AIDS Day Walk, organised by the Ministry of Health on the 30th of November 2019, commenced at Campbell Park and was concluded at the Colombo Municipal Council premises. Representing FPA Sri Lanka, Project Manager - GFATM HIV Prevention Project and Deputy Director – HIV, Ms. Nadika Fernandopulle addressed the gathering at this national event.