News / Africa

Spearheading the Fight against HIV/AIDS

Dr. Paul De Lay, Deputy Director, UNAIDS (De Capua)
Dr. Paul De Lay, Deputy Director, UNAIDS (De Capua)
Joe DeCapua
A top official at UNAIDS says in the early days of the epidemic leaders emerged not from the highest levels of government, but from the grassroots level where the disease had struck the hardest. Paul De Lay spoke at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington.

The UNAIDS official says when the epidemic began more than 30 years ago, individuals took the lead to care for the sick and dying. De Lay said they took the lead in getting the world to listen.

“We have to recognize that from the beginning of this epidemic – and it’s still true today – that as we’ve looked to our traditional leaders – political leaders, religious leaders, presidents, prime ministers – we’ve often seen a failure to respond to the epidemic the way it should have been responded to. And instead, we’ve had to look to nontraditional leaders. Now that’s changing. But I still something that I think is the most powerful part of the AIDS response,” he said.

Ordinary people did extraordinary things without resources and little information about the disease.

“They’ve come from the youth. They’ve come from faith-based organizations.  They’ve come from communities that are affected. People living with HIV. And the workplace. And when you look back and you think of Noerine Kaleeba in Uganda, Zackie Achmet in South Africa, Larry Kramer in New York. They were our leaders. They were our leaders in a time of real need,” he said.

He said UNAIDS believes it’s important to continue to nurture, develop and support leaders.

“There are a couple of things that all leaders, all advocates, all champions truly need. First of all, they need a clear vision that’s actionable. That’s measureable. And something that they can provide a continuity for passion, for dialogue, for research. That’s critical. The other thing that a leader needs for this epidemic is a good political sense. Who they need to talk to and what’s the right time to do that talking,” said De Lay.

He added leaders need to ask two important questions: What drives risk? And what blocks access to services? The answers to those questions, he says, drive the epidemic.

“We also have to have a ruthless respect for human rights because that is the core of the response. The technologies will only take us so far. And then finally, I think that leaders need to set the direction. They need to frame the dialogues and they’re going to have to be courageous,” he said.

Despite all the scientific advances, De Lay said, “The HIV/AIDS “epidemic will always require unique courage to respond to all aspects of the response.”

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs