Update

Call for scale up of HIV prevention programmes for military and security forces in West and Central Africa

16 September 2013

High-level military representatives from 19 countries in West and Central Africa have called on governments to scale up HIV prevention programmes specific for military and security forces to reduce new HIV infections and sexual gender-based violence in conflict and post conflict areas in the region.

The call was made during a meeting of the West and Central Africa Military Network for AIDS Control (REMAFOC) held in Dakar, Senegal from 2-4 September 2013. Established in December 2008 with support from UNAIDS, REMAFOC aims to coordinate the response to HIV among military forces in the region—by promoting collaboration and knowledge exchange between the armed forces of 22 West and Central Africa Members States.

During the meeting, members of the REMAFOC and representatives from UNAIDS, DPKO, UNFPA and the US Department of Defence discussed progress made in the implementation of the United Nation Security Council Resolution 1983 on HIV and security in conflict and post conflict situations. Resolution 1983 identifies sexual and gender-based violence as a specific risk of HIV infection for women and girls.

Participants at the meeting shared best practice activities from countries in conflict or post conflict situations including Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Activities range from training women’s organizations on how to refer victims of sexual violence to health care services to training trainers from the armed and security forces as well as prison and immigration services on HIV prevention.

REMAFOC Member States agreed to develop, in collaboration with the US Department of Defence, a common position paper on HIV and security to scale-up the implementation of Resolution 1983 in the region.

Quotes

Militaries, at the highest level, understood very early that HIV is not only a public health problem but also a threat to national security and have shown their firm commitment and leadership in establishing HIV units within armed forces structures.

UNAIDS Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Dr Leopold Zekeng

As REMAFOC, we have the responsibility to ensure that our officers are strong and healthy. We must collectively ensure that there is zero new transmission of HIV, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination.

General Mamadou Sow, Chief of Staff of Senegalese Armed Forces