Zimbabwe: U.S. commemorates World AIDS Day

Harare, November 29, 2012: U.S. Ambassador David Bruce Wharton will attend this year’s World AIDS Day commemorations in Beitbridge on December 1st. His participation at this year’s national commemoration is one of a series of events the U.S. Embassy is participating in to mark World AIDS Day throughout Zimbabwe. Others include support of a sports tournament and a hip hop dance festival, both targeted at youth.

Ambassador Wharton will deliver a solidarity message outlining cooperation between the U.S. and Zimbabwe as the two countries work together to improve the lives of millions of Zimbabweans.  He will highlight prevention and treatment efforts which have led to a significant decline in HIV prevalence over the past 10 years. The commemoration’s theme also focuses on partnership: “Getting to Zero – My Responsibility, Your Responsibility.”

“The theme fits well with the United States government’s commitment to shared responsibility in the global response to AIDS,” said Sharon Hudson Dean, Embassy Spokesperson. “We recognize that partnership across many sectors is essential to achieving an AIDS-free generation, hence our continued efforts to collaborate with the government of Zimbabwe and other funding partners in the response to HIV/AIDS.”

On Friday, November 30th World Education International will hold a Sexual and Reproductive Health (SHR) Sports Tournament at Belgravia Sports Club in Harare.  The event will bring together six Community Learning Centers and Safe Parks (CLASPS) to engage in football, netball and volleyball contests alongside quiz sessions. The event starts at 9 am and is open to all interested members of the public. Participants in the tournament are children who have been part of the SRH sports-based program to compete in different sporting disciplines and allow them to gain further information on SRH and HIV/AIDS issues from  service providers. Each site will bring 3 teams – a boys’ soccer team, a girls’ netball team, and a combined and equally represented volleyball team.

On Saturday, December 1 (12 noon- 6 pm), the Embassy collaborates with other local and international partners to support the Jibilika Hip Hop Dance Festival which will be held at Harare Gardens. The event will give at least thirty dance crews from within and outside Harare to showcase their talent and battle for honors in predetermined categories. All groups will present choreographed dance acts with an awareness message on the HIV/AIDS virus. “The idea is an inspiration from the United States of America where hip hop and popular youth culture are critical elements of youth engagement and development activities,” said organizer Plot Mhako.  Mhako was part of a cultural exchange program facilitated by the U.S. Embassy in 2012, which enabled him to visit the United States for a month to see how hip hop is used as a basis for civic engagement.

In addition to supporting Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, the U.S. Government is a leading provider of bilateral HIV/AIDS assistance to Zimbabwe and has committed to providing nearly US$92 million over the next year to support critical prevention, care, and treatment interventions through PEPFAR (the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).  Since 2000, the United States government has invested nearly $300 million in Zimbabwe’s fight against HIV/AIDS.