Zero Discrimination Day… AHF Africa Advocates for an end to Stigma & Discrimination

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Photo credit : UNAIDS

The 1st March is earmarked by the United Nations as Zero Discrimination day.  It is a day set aside to speak out and raise awareness against all forms of discrimination. To celebrate the right of every individual to live their full and productive life with dignity regardless of gender, race, nationality, age, disability, colour, sexuality, religion, and language.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) , a leading organization that provides cutting edge treatment and advocacy services in 36 countries globally, believes that the #ZeroDiscriminationDay is a day that should be embraced by all ; especially as the world works toward achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and ending AIDS.

“In the fight against HIV/AIDS ; ending stigma and discrimination plays a very crucial role in winning the fight and ending AIDS. Although some progress has been made in addressing stigma and discrimination, people living with HIV/AIDS still suffer as a result of stigma and discrimination in Africa and the world at large.  Individuals are still denied access to healthcare services, jobs, schools, rejected by their families and treated unfairly because of their status” ( Dr. Penninah Iutung, AHF Africa Bureau Chief)

“Nigeria has an anti-discrimination law, which is a highly commendable development; however a law is not efficient; if it is not implemented. AIDS Healthcare Foundation Believes that government needs to work more closely with stakeholders to see that nationwide orientation is carried out with respect to educating citizens and law enforcement agencies on the use of the anti-discrimination law” (Dr. Adetayo Towolawi–,Country Program Manager , AHF Nigeria).

The world needs to be a more tolerant place and people need to work concertedly to ensure that stigma and discrimination is stamped out.   In addition, more advocacy needs to be done in ensuring that favorable policies are enacted and implemented across the continent. AHF Africa advocates that every individual be treated first as humans with rights that need to be respected and upheld.  The organization also joins the United Nations and the rest of the world in solidarity; in commemoration of Zero Discrimination Day

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HIV/AIDS AWARENESS DATES FOR YOU TO REMEMBER….

Sometimes life gets in the way and you cannot juggle your personal routines with volunteering to help in the HIV/AIDS response in your Country or region; that’s fine – but you can stand in solidarity and show your support for the cause by commemorating the following days in your best possible way…

1. WORLD AIDS DAY (WAD) –  December 1

World AIDS Day is observed by millions of people around the world on December 1st of every year. It is a day set aside by the World Health Organization  to globally raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic. It serves as a reminder that HIV and AIDS still greatly affects the world and its people. Organizations and individuals involved in HIV/AIDS response around the world, observe WAD (as it is popularly called) through various events and initiatives.

Countries and notable leaders also lend their support to the observance of World AIDS Day by outlining special activities to promote the campaign. The beauty of World AIDS Day lies in the fact that every year, People of diverse color, language, race, religion etc. unite in their commitment to win the war against HIV/AIDS globally.

  • The 1st World AIDS Day was observed in 1988.
  • For every World AIDS Day there is a theme chosen by the Global Steering Committee of the World AIDS Campaign (WAC) after consultation with persons involved in the HIV/AIDS response globally.
  • Between 2011-2015, World AIDS Day has the theme: “Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.

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2.  INTERNATIONAL AIDS CANDLELIGHT MEMORIAL – 3rd Sunday in May

When four young men, took a bold step to put a face on a mysterious disease that was sweeping the gay community in 1983 in San Francisco; little did they know that would mark the beginning of a global movement.

Its been over 30 years since  Bobbi Campbell, Bobby Reynolds, Dan Turner and Mark Feldman held a vigil and march behind a banner which read “Fighting For Our Lives” but the ripple effect of that singular courageous act  birthed the International Candlelight Memorial; a movement which has inspired millions of people (especially Persons Living with HIV/AIDS) to bring HIV to the fore, for the purpose of fostering support and compelling people to action.

The Candlelight memorial which is community driven and coordinated by the Global Network of People living with HIV, has provided a platform for the world to remember and honor those we have lost to AIDS; advocate for support to people living with HIV; and address issues of  Stigma and Discrimination . It is a Community mobilization Campaign that is supported by a coalition of about 1,200 community organizations in 115 Countries worldwide. (Candlelightmemorial.org)

In some communities, the event is marked by reading out the names of all those who have died from AIDS; while others light Candles and lay them down in form of the HIV/AIDS Red Ribbon Symbol. The Candlelight is unarguably one of the most important Civil Society led efforts against HIV/AIDS; community outreaches and sensitization are a major part of the memorial annually.

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3. NATIONAL HIV TESTING DAY (NHTD) – June 27

The National HIV Testing Day is largely Celebrated in the United States. It is a day set aside to raise awareness on the importance of HIV testing and encourage people to get tested. One key driver to the spread of HIV is the fact that a lot of people do not know their HIV status.

Early detection of the Virus is one of the most important keys to living a healthy and productive life, a clear indication that the importance of HIV testing cannot be overemphasized. There is no other way to know one’s HIV status than to get tested.

The National HIV Testing Day is a good initiative by the United States and one can only hope that it is adopted by other Countries around the World.  We think it would be great if WHO and UNAIDS adopt it internationally. Don’t you agree?

Get Tested; Know your Status!!! HIV TESTING IS FREE!!!

 Take the Test

 There are other HIV awareness dates that are peculiar to some Countries but are not internationally recognized; be that as it may , you can join the world in observing the above dates by simply Tweeting about it, wearing a Red Ribbon, Volunteering etc. as a sign that you stand in solidarity with the world, especially with people living with HIV/AIDS to win the war against HIV/AIDS.

 Now you know; you may want to save the dates on your Phone or write it down in a diary 🙂