Stop the Blindness

“Stop AIDS; Keep the Promise” the theme for World AIDS Day 2005 is strong indicator of the acknowledgement for a need in shifting the focal point against AIDS, from prevention to participation. UNAIDS estimates there are 38 million adults and 2.3 million children living with HIV, with the possibility that another 4.9 million people could get infected with HIV during 2005. These statistics are a grim reminder that half of the people infected with HIV do so before they are 25 years, and die of AIDS before they get to be 35.

Since 1988, 1st December of every year is recognized as World AIDS Day, a reminder that there are many things still to be done against AIDS. The theme for 2005 will remain as the focus until 2010 with the commitment to keep the promise in raising and supporting initiatives to create awareness and understanding, and to remember the many who are suffering with the virus. It serves as an appeal to governments, policy makers, NGOs, communities and individuals to ensure they fulfill their commitment and meet the goals they have agreed to in the campaign against HIV/AIDS. 

It is only fair that people hold governments accountable to ensure promises made are fulfilled and to enquire whether enough progress is being made to strengthen the campaign. “Stop AIDS; Keep the Promise” is a call to stop the blindness by participating and pledging to Stop AIDS and is aimed at persuading governments to fulfill their Declaration of Commitment by taking action on HIV/AIDS in areas of leadership, prevention, care and support, treatment, reducing vulnerability and human rights. The theme is indicative for critical and decisive involvement that would foster a cohesive global movement which yields progress. 

The relevancy of the theme in Naga context has profoundness. In a time when ongoing campaigns against HIV/AIDS in Naga society has been smeared by the politicization of NGOs and distribution of resources; this moment of remembrance is providing an opportunity for self-criticism to make necessary changes that would enable the campaign to be relevant again. 

While it must be acknowledged and appreciated that the campaign against HIV/AIDS in Naga society started well, it must be said that in recent times it has slipped into a cynical state of stagnation. Part of the reason has got to do with the fact that existing approaches has reached saturation and somehow it has been unable to shift gears to another level of the campaign. The other reason lies in the unwillingness to shift the focus from NGOs to the community. Presently, NGO’s are claiming ownership of the campaign, when in actuality they ought to be facilitating the campaign into a movement. This tragic irony needs to be corrected. Let’s promise to keep ‘people’ at the center of the movement against HIV/AIDS.