By Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation
With this year’s World AIDS Day theme “Getting to Zero, Zero new HIV infections, Zero Discrimination, and Zero related AIDS deaths,” the Pacific region will be joining international communities to commemorate and promote the message of getting to zero with major events and activities in respective countries.
UNAIDS has decided that for December 1, 2011, right up until 2015 it’s envisioned that different regions and groups will each year choose one or all of the zeros that best addresses their situation.
Preparations for the World AIDS Day (WAD) in the region have commenced and the Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation (PIAF) together with its partners will be commemorating the day in Fiji, Cook Islands, Tonga, and the Solomon Islands on the December 1.
Some of the Pacific Island countries have focused on one of the three zeros as their main theme in which they plan to carryout awareness raising activities for this year while others have integrated the overall theme in their activities and PIAF together with its partners have committed their support.
PIAF has joined in the preparations in the Cook Islands with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to create awareness on Volunteer Confidentiality Counseling and Testing (VCCT) through the local media.
PIAF’s positive community programme coordinator, Temo Sasau, says there are a lot of planned lead up events to December 1 and PIAF will link up with its trained AIDS Ambassadors in respective countries in the region.
Sasau said Fiji had focused on “Zero Discrimination” as its main theme for this year, and most of the activities wiould heavily promote zero discrimination in all forms against PLHIV and those affected by HIV and AIDS.
He is also expected in Tonga to participate with WAD activities which have already commenced with the 16 Days of Human Rights Activism.
Moreover, from the 10 goals set by UNAIDS on this year’s WAD theme, PIAF continues to strengthen the Regional HIV Response through its legal programme by fast tracking respective legislative responses in the region.
2011 has been a year that PIAF has partnered with respective governments and national AIDS councils in the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, and Kiribati to have policies and legislations on HIV enacted.
The programme has taken a legal and rights-based approach that acknowledges the central role of PLHIV based on the notion that positive people are the most-effective tool in HIV prevention; the legal response is one of the most effective responses to HIV; and the evidence based human rights approach to HIV is the most effective response to HIV.
The legal programme sets out national and regional legal obligations, and marks out the path to getting to zero by having legislations in place which oblige leaders to respond better to HIV.