The International AIDS Agenda and A Call to Support Community-Based Organizations

Two days before the International AIDS conference, while The Cradle Project opened at the Washington Studio School in DC, some Firelight advisors, board, staff and grantees met with 450 other delegates at a two-day symposium of the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS. Firelight is a founding member of the Coalition and our Director, Peter Laugharn, just completed his term as the Chair of the Coalition, which believes that children need to be made a higher priority in the international response to HIV and AIDS. Three Firelight grantees: the AIDS Outreach Programme Nayakato from Tanzania, the Association Ihorere Munyarwanda of Rwanda, and the Nkhotakota AIDS Support Organization of Malawi attended the symposium and are also at the conference. As the symposium wrapped up, CCABA issued a statement about the importance of  community-based organizations in the fight against pediatric HIV and AIDS:

Symposium Calls for Community-Based Organizations to Have Greater Role in Efforts to  Eliminate New Pediatric HIV Infections

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the XIX International AIDS Conference, 450 delegates from 57 countries participated in a symposium to discuss how community-based programs are central to international efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).

The symposium, “Children with HIV: Closing the Gap – Ending Vertical Transmission through Community Action,” brought together researchers, international NGOs, community organizations, and affected populations to examine how to better connect community organizations and medical service providers in ending pediatric HIV and AIDS.

While the global HIV community has largely focused on the medical needs of HIV-positive children, discussion at the symposium focused on how community-based engagement extends the reach of clinic-based services, addresses the needs of children affected by HIV regardless of their individual HIV status, and ultimately improves the health and well-being of entire families.

“Even if a child is born free of HIV infection, that child is not free of a life affected by HIV – which makes the care and support agenda for children more important now than ever,” said Kate Iorpenda, Chair of the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS. “We have seen a lot of progress in ending pediatric HIV, but we won’t reach our goals unless communities are involved, and unless we pay attention to the most vulnerable families.”

The meeting also included the launch of a new supplement in the Journal of the International AIDS Society (JIAS) focused specifically on how community action is needed to meet the ambitious targets laid out in the Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections Among Children by 2015 and Keeping their Mothers Alive.

“The Global Plan to eliminate new pediatric HIV infections is changing how we think about the pediatric HIV epidemic,” said Professor Linda Richter, Distinguished Research Fellow at Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa. “We have long known that community action is essential to getting services to children affected by the disease, but the Global Plan is the first time the international community has explicitly stated that funding community organizations is an essential part of getting to the end of AIDS in the pediatric population.”


About the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS: The Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS believes that children need to be made a higher priority in the international response to HIV and AIDS. The Coalition brings funders and technical experts together to advocate for the best policy, research, and programs for children because children are a vulnerable population that has too often been overlooked. For more information, visit

Media Contact: Professor Linda Richter +27 (82) 412 2589