Twenty-seven mayors in the Indonesian province of West Java signed a groundbreaking declaration on August 9, pledging their unified response to combat HIV and AIDS. This was the first summit of this type in the country and comes on the heels of a meeting earlier this year between AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) senior leaders and provincial officials.
Prior to the meeting, most top leaders were not aware of how much the virus had spread throughout their communities. It is hoped the declaration will prompt further response across the rest of the country.
“This is our first signing of its kind in Indonesia,” said West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan. “I will suggest to our president that he ask other provinces to sign the same declaration to show our commitment to fight against HIV. I want to thank the AIDS Commission and AHF Indonesia for your support.”
Key aspects of the declaration include: increasing comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS among youth and women; boosting HIV testing overall and particularly in high-risk communities; improving treatment services regardless of ability to pay; and reducing stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV.
“Those living with HIV are human beings and should not face discrimination due to their status,” said Provincial Health Department Director Dr. Dodo Suhendar. “This declaration is the first step to making sure all those affected are treated equally.”
AHF hopes the ground gained through the declaration will garner more support for programs in the country like its condom and rapid testing campaigns. The organization has been active in Indonesia since 2016 and has 2,510 patients in care.