Author: M. G.
Di Rupo And Belgium In The Front Row Against HIV
Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo has given a speech last week at the 14th European AIDS Conference. His words were extremely interesting given the recent launch of first Belgian National Strategic Plan on HIV. As we said yesterday, statistics show that in Belgium the number of HIV+ people out of 100.000 inhabitants is almost double that of the European average (11 against 5,7) so a far-reaching, multi-year and multi-sectoral program should be the answer to effectively counter the spreading of the epidemic.
The plan was developed together with a wide range of different representatives - from UNAIDS to medical professionals, from key populations to community activists. These are the same actors that should be involved in the future to increase HIV prevention through the promotion of HIV testing, making treatments more available and, last but not least, giving care and support to the affected population. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé noted that, since this plan focuses on key categories of populations like MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) and migrant workers, it should be considered as a pioneer model for other European countries to follow. We couldn't agree more.
Di Rupo gives us hopes that Belgium can really become one of the leading actors in the future steps taken to contrast the spread of the epidemic in Europe.
Finally, we were glad to see how our DAA Ambassador top model Hannelore Knuts yesterday wanted to support us via twitter replying to Di Rupo's tweets: "HIV is a disease that not has to exist @eliodirupo Condoms should not be a thing of shame but cool! @_DAA knows that #smartissexy !".
We also received a recommendation letter of Professor Baron Peter Piot, who was Executive Director of UNAIDS for over 10 years, before handing over the reigns to Michel Sidibé. He writes: "It's important to educate each new generation about the fact that safe sex is still important -and the creative way that you manage to get that message across to youth, with both local projects and national and global campaigns via social media, is a beautiful, contemporary and accessible addition to existing initiatives. Your education center has an international image and puts Belgium on the map as a country of creative, innovative and socially aware entrepeneurs. I feel that the IHAEC needs to be supported in any way possible- it's about the future of our youth and when it comes to HIV, prevention still is the only way to stay healthy and keep from getting infected with the virus."
Well, what to say more? We are here and ready to rock our way!