People living with HIV unite to respond to the HIV epidemic in the Indian Ocean islands

Two of the major networks of people living with HIV in the Indian Ocean region have merged. The decision, which is aimed at strengthening civil society participation in the AIDS response in the Indian Ocean islands, was announced during the 13th Indian Ocean Colloquium on HIV and Hepatitis, which concluded on 10 October in Saint-Gilles-les-Bains, Réunion.

Ravane+, which means uniting people living with HIV, and Femmes Positives Océan Indien will work together under a single network—Ravane Océan Indien—in advocating for the rights of people living with HIV and those most vulnerable to HIV infection. The network will focus on advocating for equitable health care and public services for people living with HIV and creating an enabling policy and legal environment for populations at higher risk of HIV infection, including men who have sex with men, sex workers and people who inject drugs.

The newly appointed President of Ravane Océan Indien, Ronny Arnephy, stressed that although each island has specific challenges in the HIV epidemic, having a common goal will bring greater opportunities for stronger advocacy and representation from civil society.

For the past 12 months, the two networks—with technical and financial support from UNAIDS and other partners—have been working together in refining the details of the merger, including defining the vision, operational modalities and workplan for 2015.

“As a Minister of Health, I strongly believe in the pivotal role of civil society in strengthening government programmes on HIV and AIDS and in our quest to getting to zero.”
Mitsy Larue, Minister of Health, Seychelles

“UNAIDS salutes the birth of a strong civil society network in the Indian Ocean islands. HIV continues to be a significant health issue and an even bigger social challenge in the islands, due to stigma and discrimination. I am proud to have been part of this very important event and UNAIDS will continue its support to Ravane Océan Indien.” Sheila Tlou, Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa

“The response to HIV will not go anywhere without meaningful engagement of civil society and community mobilization. These are essential elements to making sure that our scientific progress benefits everyone.” Willy Rozenbaum, co-discoverer of the human immunodeficiency virus

“The new network of people living with HIV has a single goal, a strong AIDS response that saves lives and leaves no one behind.” Ronny Arnephy, President of Ravane Océan Indien

Source – UNAIDS