Health & Safety

May 18, 2012

Military HIV/AIDS conference promotes awareness, prevention

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Wilson
Air Forces Africa

U.S. Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, deputy to the commander for civil-military activities U.S. Africa Command, delivers closing remarks for the 2012 International Military HIV/AIDS Conference, May 10. Military and civilian delegates and subject matter experts from 77 nations gathered for the 2012 conference in Maputo, Mozambique, May 7-10, to share best practices in HIV prevention, care and treatment.

MAPUTO, Mozambique (AFNS) — The 2012 International Military HIV/AIDS Conference concluded May 10, 2012, after four days of sharing insights into new ways to re-energize military HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

Presentations by subject matter experts, interactive discussions and workshops were among the ways participants shared methods to improve their HIV/AIDS programs and increase their capacity to provide effective and sustainable programs.

“This conference constitutes a sovereign opportunity to share experiences, and learn the concepts that will be discussed, to enrich and improve our service in fighting HIV and AIDS within our own institutions and in the entire country,” said Prime Minister of Mozambique Aires Ali.

Objectives for this year’s conference included: the role of leadership in successful military HIV/AIDS programs; the best military health system practices in HIV prevention, care, treatment, and strategic information; facilitating military-to-military technical assistance, networking and partnership; and consolidating advances in military medical HIV programs to support an agile, effective and sustainable response to the epidemic.

“It is the result of your participation that this has been an extremely useful week for all of us and it amplifies our collective efforts in the fight against the scourge of HIV/AIDS,” said U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Mozambique, Ms. Christine Elder.

“Perhaps the most valuable part of being here was the opportunity to share experiences and information on what has worked in each of your own environments and the challenges that you face every day.”

Participants of the 2012 conference said the information gained here would be invaluable to their countries’ fight against HIV and AIDS.

“This conference is very, very important – especially for the countries in southern Africa, because we have higher rates of HIV prevalence,” said Brig. Gen. Belchior da Silva, Angolan armed forces HIV program manager. “This is a good moment to look at what we are doing in our country and compare it with what others are doing.”

The value of cooperation among the international military community was a point emphasized during closing remarks by Dr. Richard Shaffer, Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program executive director.

“We’ve had some tremendous speakers, we’ve had some eye opening content and we’ve had the opportunity to share among each other what we know has been working. Make sure that as you continue to work on this effort that you know we are all here together and as you look around this room there are many of us that all want to do the same thing,” Shaffer said.

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