A Day of Advocacy and Equality in Action
Foundation Ambassador Florence Ngobeni-Allen introduced United States Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton at an event on Thursday, November 29 launching the new PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation. The new plan is a special, action-oriented plan to set and meet priorities for achieving the elimination of pediatric AIDS. In the blog that follows, Florence shares her experiences meeting Secretary Clinton and participating in the important event.
When I was invited to join the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other special guests for the launch of the new PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation, I wasn’t sure what purpose a “blueprint” served in the fight against AIDS. As an advocate, a previous beneficiary of PEPFAR-supported program, and a mother committed to an AIDS-free generation, I had never heard of a blueprint plan.
What I learned in the days leading up to the event was nothing short of incredible. The Blueprint represents an incredible movement for the global AIDS community. It is a tangible guide to how the United States plans to do its part in the cooperative fight to eliminate pediatric AIDS. It addition to mapping out its own priorities in the fight, the Blueprint also serves to foster a more cooperative response from all governments in shared efforts to create an AIDS-free generation. The plan is a prioritized, actionable, and collaborative response to the pandemic – making it all the more realistic, and achievable. As an advocate and an HIV-positive woman, I am encouraged by what I see.
To be able to participate in the launch of such an exciting step in our work to eliminate pediatric AIDS was a true honor. Secretary Clinton is a hero to me. She has fought for human rights, particularly the rights on women and girls. She has made a huge difference for those affected by HIV/AIDS, including me and my family. She is a true leader – but someone who leads with equal amounts of compassion and care as intelligence. To share the stage with her was a humbling, amazing experience.
I shared the stage with Secretary Clinton, United States Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe, and Chairperson of the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. It was an impressive group – and one that made me very nervous. But overriding that nervousness was the unbelievable strength I felt from feeling I was equal to each of the others. We were all together to contribute our equally important messages about the fight against AIDS.
In our own ways, we have all worked tirelessly to make an AIDS-free generation a possibility. And our presence on stage together yesterday morning illustrated that there is a growing commitment among all stakeholders and a renewed sense of nonpartisan collaboration and cooperation.
What’s more, my involvement showed we are moving beyond so many of the issues that kept us from achieving success before. We are listening to one another, and we are getting better at engaging those most closely affected by HIV in high-level decision making. As a representative of that group, I felt like our voices are getting stronger.
I was honored beyond words to be part of this incredible day. I felt truly appreciated – like I had a bigger role to play in the fight for an AIDS-free generation. And I’m eager to continue that role.
Yesterday was an example of how the rest of the world should embrace and take the lead in fighting HIV. It showed that HIV is a fight for all – and that each of us a role to play. Most importantly, it reinforced that this new road of collaboration, of unity, of commitment, isn’t just talk. It’s action.
I’m looking forward to continuing my role as a mother, an advocate, and as an HIV-positive woman in this action. Join me.