Almost 300 members of the U.S. Mission in Maputo, Mozambique commemorated World AIDS Day on December 1, 2008 at a ceremony on the Mission lawn with Mozambican leaders, and local and international partners of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
The event, opened by Charge d' Affaires Todd Chapman, highlighted the 130,000 healthy HIV-positive Mozambicans who are alive as a result of antiretroviral drugs supported by PEPFAR, and underscored the importance of HIV/AIDS awareness in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
At the ceremony, the Mission renewed its focus on risky behaviors associated with HIV/AIDS - through songs, theatre, and informational presentations.
Mozambican musician Stewart Sukuma and Central Line, a band fronted by a member of the U.S. Mission, Joana Coana, sang songs about creating hope and ending the spread of HIV/AIDS. Attendees visited booths and venues to learn about children's rights; the risks associated with intergenerational sex and multiple concurrent partnerships; women's rights in the context of Mozambican culture; male circumcision; and the best use of local resources for better nutrition.
Event participants also received t-shirts and customized U.S./Mozambican AIDS awareness pins. They had the option of attending a counseling and testing site constructed on the mission lawn, which remained on the lawn for the remainder of the week. Small handicrafts markets were on site as well to generate monetary support for local HIV/AIDS organizations.
Though Mozambique has a ways to go to defeat the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the Mission is confident that the messages passed on at this event will benefit the country and its fight against HIV/AIDS.
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