World AIDS Day observance
…NAC calls for leadership at all levels to tackle the virus
In observance of World AIDS Day (WAD) today, the National AIDS Committee (NAC) is calling on Guyanese to reflect on those who live with and have died from HIV/AIDS.
The committee is also urging a more democratic understanding of the concept of ‘leadership,’ as it requires everyone to assume leadership roles, which in turn assumes complete and transparent access to all necessary information.
In a press release, the NAC noted that, “a further priority in the area of HIV/AIDS leadership in Guyana must be creating an enabling environment for persons living with HIV/AIDS to assume leadership roles.”
NAC stated that everyone has leadership tasks to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS, beginning with persons taking a lead in their own lives, and always protecting their health.
“Leadership at national and international government levels is primarily a task of ensuring the priority of HIV is sustained and resources not diverted to competing needs. Leadership does not require the Government to be necessarily the major implementer of all HIV responses.”
NAC is of the view that the most fundamental trait of leadership is to take initiatives without waiting to be told.
However, in the Guyanese context, they noted, there is a lack of access to information, which is a major factor working against such initiatives.
It was noted that, due to the stigma attached to the virus, the community of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) in Guyana is generally invisible, and as such no well-known HIV-positive person in Guyana would dare risk publicizing their status.
“The stigma associated with the virus remains as virulent as the virus itself. How, in such circumstances, can persons living with HIV/AIDS assume leadership roles? NAC questioned.
NAC is also of the view that leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Guyana — whether religious, political, medical or social — has consistently failed to address the problem.
“Combating the virus has always been firmly in the hands of uninfected people. At the same time, the success of the NAC-sponsored survey on stigma and discrimination, carried out extensively by PLWHAs in May of this year, demolished arguments that the PLWHA capacity for involvement is not available.”