AIDS Commission Launches Five-Year Strategic and Operational Plan Print E-mail
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Written by Shane d. Williams   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 00:00

Dr. Peter Allen, CEO in Ministry of Health; Judith Alpuche, CEO in Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation; and Kathy Esquivel, Chair of National AIDS Commisiion.The National AIDS Commission launched its 2012-2016 National Strategic and Operational Plan on Thursday, July 19. Dr. Martin Cuellar, Executive Director of the National AIDS Commission, said that the plans were drafted after two years of consultations with civil society, community-based organizations and government institutions.

To construct the national strategic plan, the commission did an analysis of gaps that existed in the country’s national response to HIV and compared it to the country profile in terms of statistics and assessments of our performance and commitments to international agreements. That allowed the commission to point out three priority areas. Those are ending new infections; improving the quality of life and well being of persons living with HIV; and creating an enabling environment for living a healthy and normal life.

The national operational plan includes specific actions that the commission will take to achieve its goals. In their effort to end new infections, the commission will “design cutting edge, evidence- informed interventions for sexual behavioural change, especially among identified vulnerable groups”. The commission will also reduce barriers to widepread HIV testing in key affected populations and establish systems to produce and sustain a national profile of transmissions to guide prevention interventions. The commission will also implement socialization programs to mitigate negative cultural norms that increase the risk of HIV transmission such as those that facilitate gender-based violence.

In an effort to improve the quality of life and well-being of persons living with HIV, the commission will improve access to quality HIV treatment and support services and improve the overall parameters of clinical management of care and treatment services. The commission will also implement treatment education initiatives for people with HIV and those most vulnerable to HIV infection. Dr. Cuellar said, “By educating an individual on how to manage the disease and take care of their own health, we are creating someone that is much more aware and empowered.” 

The third area of priority for the commission is creating an enabling environment for people living with HIV. The commission will be implementing six strategies to achieve this goal. First, the commission will improve access to legal services. Secondly, the commission will attempt to reduce and mitigate the impact of stigma and discrimination. An effort will be made to reduce legal or policy barriers to equal opportunities and universal access. The commission will conduct a systematic mainstreaming of a high quality HIV response in different sectors of society. The commission’s fifth objective is to strengthen the HIV/AIDS surveillance, compilation and processing of data. Finally, the commission plans to conduct further research in relation to the characteristics of the epidemic and the effectiveness of the response.

Immediately after the launch of the 2012-2016 National Strategic and Operational Plan, the National AIDS Commission hosted a workshop with representatives of civil society, community based organizations and government institutions to discuss immediate implementation of the plans.