Gaborone hosts military HIV/AIDS conference

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF), American Embassy and US Department of Defense (DOD) will host a five-day military HIV/AIDS prevention conference from Monday.

The conference, which is billed for Gaborone Sun, is expected to, among
others, draw more than 150 military HIV/AIDS prevention specialists
from 26 African countries.

Participants will share will share best practices in HIV prevention and
provide input regarding future directions and HIV prevention needs.

Speaking at a recent press briefing in Mogoditshane, the BDF deputy
commander, Major General Gobuamang Thokwane said the conference will be
a testament to the global partnerships to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic
as militaries are equally affected by the scourge.

The conference will be held under the theme "Militaries Leading
Prevention Efforts to fight HIV/AIDS." Gen. Thokwane said the
conference’s objectives are to identify and share best practices in
military population for HIV prevention including structural,
behavioural and biomedical approaches to preventions.

He added that the conference will seek to enforce understanding the
barriers to prevention and identify solutions to implementation of
international HIV prevention programmes.

The deputy commander also enlightened that the conference is a result
of consultation between the BDF and the USA Embassy from the past year
recognising that new strategies, more especially biomedical
interventions can make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Therefore, the consultation enforced positioning the militaries to
accept the value of such interventions, and to bring them on board as
the continent gears up the male circumcision strategy.

"The conference will focus on preventative structural components in the
form of regional response to HIV and military HIV/AIDS policy. On
behavioural interventions, the conference will look at prevention with
positives and prevention dissemination strategies while on biomedical
interventions we will look at the efficacy of male circumcision for HIV
prevention, research and practices," Gen. Thokwane said.

US’ Lt. Colonel William Wyatt said their partnership with the BDF stem
from the 1980s and has proved to be beneficial to both partners. "We
are delighted about the corporation between the BDF and us the USA
Military, this partnership goes back to the early 1980s. Our assistance
to them in HIV/AIDS programmes started in 2000 with the first funding
coming from the Naval Health Research Center and subsequently through
PEPFAR from 2003 up to the present day", Wyatt said.

Col Wyatt said Batswana should pride themselves in the fact that the
BDF is treating HIV/AIDS like a war. He added that through this
partnership, they will continue to find and use best practices to
combat the pandemic. Wyatt added that the conference will delve more on
the exciting subject of male circumcision in preventing the spread of
HIV, as a result experts will advocate for the integration of male
circumcision into prevention programmes.


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