The event celebrated the power of communities leading the response to HIV. “I hope member states are listening because if we let communities lead, this will bring justice and it will be cost-effective,” she said. “This has to be a table that is equal.”
The table also has to be honest and fair, urged Ross, who has lived with HIV for 23 years. “We must acknowledge and close the gaps,” she said. “For example, is there a technical gap between the organizations and communities?”
She also urged being inclusive and accepting the large diversity of communities. “Avoid the colonial approach of ‘I will save you,’ “ she urged. “What communities bring to the table is a lot and it is explained in the report.”
She was referring to the report “Let Communities Lead!” which is also the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day, celebrated annually on 1 December.
The report shows why it’s vital to authentically believe and respect the knowledge and wisdom of communities. “It means putting resources for the communities to lead and implement,” she said. “People with HIV bring more than our diagnosis. We bring the experience of what works and what does not work.”