Communities Making the Difference

Precious Shongwe

In my context or world, 'community' would mean girls and women living with HIV coming together as a powerful force taking the lead in ensuring the end of AIDS by 2030.

A lot has been done globally, regionally and nationally in ensuring that the environment is conducive enough for PLHIV to engage and participate meaningfully, and we appreciate that though it varies according to country context. Over the years we would wait for months to receive CD4 results and then being initiated to treament, we would travel very long distances to facilities, HIV services were not decentralised and not integrated. Yes, we lost comrades along the way and we are not giving up because we understand that this is a struggle and we are not giving up.

As we are in the last mile of the fight as YPLHIV, girls and women living with HIV, we believe we are a powerful force towards the goal of ending AIDS by 2030. For this goal to be achieved in such an economic crisis faced by the world - but especially our governments in Africa - we believe we can still play a major role towards reaching an HIV-free generation.

SRHR for women living with HIV is still a challenge where we witness women living with HIV die because of cervical cancer. Women still travel long distances to clinics and integration of services is still often a lip-service. Programs are still designed at higher level and we are expected to accept them and most are not a priority to us as YPLHIV and WLHIV.

Governments and donors still need to come down to grassroots level and gather information on what we want and how we want it as a we are a powerful force in ending HIV by 2030.

There is still need to invest in AYPLHIV and WLHIV interventions/programs and also ensure that we are meaningfully involved from programme designs, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Donors and our governments need to financially invest in youth and women led organisations and ensure sustainability of their existence. We can not keep on saying that this is a CRUNCH time and not invest in PLHIV organisations.

As we remember all the Comdrades who died in the struggle we say,
Aluta Continua