_CENTRAL ROLE OF THE COMMUNITY MOVEMENT
Barcelona, Catalonia 8 July 2002
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Uganda activist and HIV-positive treatment advocate Milly Katana delivered a plenary address on the HIV/AIDS Community Movement at the 14th International AIDS Conference.
Katana reminded a packed room that communities have always taken the lead in responding to the 20 year old epidemic and highlighted the current state of crisis in many parts of the world which has communities -- largely unpaid groups of women, youth and people living with HIV/AIDS taking responsibility for providing care and support for orphans, family members, and themselves.
"In some countries where scientists took the 'no action' action, communities were already on the ground offering support, long before there was diagnosis of this strange disease," she said.
Now, Katana says, these same communities must take the lead in the movement to increase access to antiretovirals and other essential medications. "Communities must engage in the debate and actions of determining how best to access the most competively priced high quality drugs in low resource settings, and how to provide treatment to people who are in greatest need," she said.
Communites are critical partners in this endeavor, Katana said, calling on scientists and clinicians to consult with the groups and individuals with long experience working with little or no funding to provide support, reducing stigma, silence and denial around HIV/AIDS.
"The world needs more resources to combat HIV/AIDS, Katana said. "However, we have some resources, which have accumulated over the years, especially human resources and skills, and knowledge on what works and what does not work for prevention. Community groups need to put this to maximum use."
In Zambia and Botswana, it's the volunteers who have the expertise, Katana said.
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