Jeff Acaba, GNP+ Board member
On the occasion of commemorating the 2022 International AIDS Candlelight Memorial with theme, “Beyond Remembering, to taking Action to End AIDS”, we remember our families, friends, and colleagues who have died because of AIDS. More than 40 years since HIV has been named, we must remember, through the deaths that we have collectively experienced, that while this virus is manageable thanks to science, it still is killing more than hundreds of thousands of people each year in Asia and the Pacific (based on the 2021 Global AIDS Report). We have the tools that keep people informed of their HIV status and keeping us alive as people living with HIV, but the access gap to information, testing, and treatment vary largely. Testing coverage across different key populations in the Asia and the Pacific region remain below 60% across the board. Treatment gap ranges from 5% in Cambodia to more than 60% in Afghanistan.
One of the reasons for these gaps is the continued persecution and ostracization of key populations through laws that are punitive or that hamper key population’s and specific group’s access to HIV services: laws that continue to criminalise sex work and drug use, and laws that require parental consent even at an age wherein young people can already discern their needs. As long as these laws remain, we will not reach the targets that we have set by 2025.
This International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, let us match every remembrance with a commitment to take action – not only to address these legal and political gaps, but also to protect our gains and call on a continued investment to the responses led by key population-led organisations and civil society, that have effectively stemmed the HIV epidemic in respective communities and spaces. Our role, especially in advocacy, has never been more important and necessary, especially in a climate where our contributions are either questioned or reduced. Beyond remembering, let’s fight and take action to end AIDS!
Visit the Candlelight Memorial website for this year’s activities and events: