This year on December 1st, the world marks the crucial role of communities in shaping the HIV response and fighting against the virus. Their active work allows to keep the AIDS problem on the political agenda, protect human rights and maintain control over the activities of decision-makers and implement them.

The annual report of UNAIDS Let Communities Lead shows that investing in community-led HIV programmes delivers transformational benefits. But it is not enough! We need to work more to increase these positive numbers because the community leadership is the greatest power for progress!

AFEW International is a community-centred organisation. We work with and for communities affected by HIV for more than 20 years. With a focus on Eastern Europe and Central Asia, we are giving support and a strong international voice on rights and on health access to underserved populations in the EECA Region. In these years AFEW helped establishing Key Populations led networks and organisations throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia. With our projects we make sure that key populations are at the decision table to develop policies, programmes and health systems that concern their health.

We are calling for urgent support to Let Communities Lead in the fight to end AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and in the whole world! Communities’ leadership roles need to be made core in all HIV plans and programmes. They need to be fully and reliably funded.

Yuliya van Polanen, Executive director of AFEW International

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