US Ambassador commends warriors in the battle against HIV and AIDS

US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti during the World AIDS Day commemoration in Kohima on December 1.

US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti during the World AIDS Day commemoration in Kohima on December 1.

World AIDS day observed in Nagaland

Morung Express news 
Kohima | December 1 

US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti today asserted that enabling communities to lead has always been the answer to epidemics like HIV which are dehumanized and stigmatized and has crossed borders, language, religion and culture.

He was speaking as special guest during the state level event to commemorate World AIDS day held at Hotel Japfü in Kohima today. 

He said although countries, regions and municipalities have borders but the most critical threats and the greatest breakthrough are those that ignore borders. 

"Diseases don't need to check in with passports, it crosses borders which we have seen during the pandemic. It started in a country and swept around the world," he said adding that on the good side, the answer is innovation, works and breakthroughs if done right, don't have to be stopped by borders and that's what we celebrate today. 

Garcetti said, on this World AIDS Day, “we have been touched across borders, language, religion and culture.” "It also requires us to understand that love finds us together on such occasions," he added. 

The Ambassador praised warriors and innovators for pioneering here in the state and country for initiating and alleviating the challenges around HIV. 

Recalling about the extent of stigma and discrimination people face even in the west years back, Garcetti said people dehumanize folks with such diseases although they were already dehumanized by the society; and fear, rumour and conjecture rule the day. People learnt that it was not about the disease, but the people. It was not just death notice for people but a social death notice, he said. 

The Ambassador said the courage and compassion PLHIVs have are noteworthy and remembered the ones who lost their lives in their battles without drugs or treatment. "We can only count those we have lost and the good work is about the people who are alive, walking and contributing." 

“When the government, community, churches and everyday neighbours step forward, lend a hand to one another, so many people survive," he underscored.  

Commending the National AIDS programme of the country as a global model, he thanked India for letting the US also be a part of it. He said the United States has come here with great humility, to learn and listen and extended that the US has a commitment for the people of India and the people here. He said that the embassy will try to bring more resources. 

Referring to the theme for this year’s World AIDS Day, 'Let communities lead,' the Ambassador remarked that this theme has always been the answer. When we let communities lead, we become an unstoppable force, he stated.

“If you are 1 person in India, you can feel isolated but 1.4 billion people marching towards at the same point of the horizon can do anything to the things they set their minds to. If people with HIV take treatment as prescribed and babies are detected early with HIV, we can maintain an undetectable level, the speaker said and added that this isn't about HIV, it is about people and communities and we can stop the stigma of talking about HIV and not about people living lives with HIV,” he said. 

"This not about the disease, but about treatment, wellbeing, mental health, caring for the entire person and community" Garcetti added while calling upon the gathering to pledge and help somebody so that society can come together and defeat AIDS. 

“Whether we have somebody living with HIV or know someone with HIV or are attending a programme of such kind, we all have a role to play in helping someone and each one of us is necessary so that we will be able to defeat AIDS,” he stressed.

Garcetti also introduced his colleagues from the embassy. 

Earlier short speeches were delivered by Dr. Joyce Angami, President, Nagaland Medical Council; KP Ezung, Assistant Director, Kripa Foundation and Dr. Bernice Dzüvichü, Joint Director (Prevention), NSACS. V Kezo, Commissioner and Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Nagaland gave the welcome address. Community voices were presented by Ilato, Asang, Yhuni, Moa and Echi and Cradle Ridge, Seithogei presented a song. Ahu Sekhose, Project Director, NSACS gave the vote of thanks. The programme was chaired by Nukshinaro Ao, Executive Board Member, NNagaDAO.