Powerful Voices Effective Positive Change

In the global fight against HIV and AIDS, children, their parents and carers are instrumental to creating effective solutions and positive change. They are the experts of their own experiences; their unique points of view must help to shape decisions around funding, programming and policies.

There are dynamic networks all over the world that contain remarkable champions speaking from first hand experience about the impact of HIV and AIDS on their children and families. Very often these groups are at the forefront of cutting-edge solutions; it is imperative that they be heard.

With that in mind, what is the best way to harness their voices?

The Coalition is hoping to help answer that question by working with a select group of Ambassadors representing some of these very networks. By sharing the stories of these individuals, we are hoping to amplify their message and draw attention to the critical needs facing young children and families affected by HIV.

Recently, on the margins of the AIDSImpact conference, I had the opportunity to spend time with several of the Coalition Ambassadors. I wrote of the experience on the Hilton Foundation blog:

“Our Coalition Ambassadors gave me a strong reminder of the ways we can empower people living with HIV by seeing them as ‘whole people,’ with complex strengths and challenges, and with families to care for — as opposed to seeing them through the narrow prism of HIV — thereby solely defining them by their disease status. This is important for many reasons, including for ensuring that their young children get the support and care they need. For children born into families affected by HIV, often our efforts are too narrowly focused, missing critical opportunities to ensure parents and caregivers have what they need to ensure that these children not only survive, but also thrive.”

I have been involved in the fight against HIV and AIDS for decades and yet these powerful voices provided new perspective for me. Imagine, then, how compelling their stories might be for global decision makers. I look forward to finding out as we continue to work together in the months to come.