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World AIDS Day 2008

Some Thoughts on Leadership

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November/December 2008

On December 1 every year, the world comes together to commemorate World AIDS Day. Leadership has been chosen by the World AIDS Campaign as the theme for World AIDS Day 2007 and 2008. This theme will continue to be promoted with the slogan "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise." The theme for World AIDS Day has been determined by the World AIDS Campaign since 1997.

For this issue we asked a few, select individuals, "What does leadership mean to you?" Here is what they said, but we'd also like to hear from our readers, so please visit us at and take the PA online poll, and tell us what leadership means to you.

Julie Davis Julie Davids, Senior Consultant and founding executive director of Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP);

Although it's easy enough to be a self-appointed leader, I believe the HIV/AIDS movement needs leaders who are effective in two ways: by their actions, and by their commitment to bringing out the leadership in others.

We must not fall sway to political or community leaders who talk the talk or who bring out a tasty spread at a meeting or reception. What are these leaders actually doing, and is it in our interest? In order to evaluate if it's in our interest, it's the collective responsibility of all of us as leaders to understand the issues and have the ability to read between the lines... and that happens best by coming together as groups to set our priorities and consider the contexts that will affect decisions made in or against our interests.

Heidi Nass Heidi Nass, treatment advocate and woman living with HIV

We should be winning this thing. HIV and AIDS are completely preventable. The means exist to do enough and tragic experience has taught us the extreme cost of doing too little.

What we lack is a culture of brave leadership unified in its adherence to the science of prevention and treatment. Certainly there are individual leaders among us -- people, organizations, even governments -- but each swims in a sea of indifference, denial and greed.

Stephen Lewis Stephen Lewis, Co-Director, AIDS-Free World (

It is said, authoritatively, that Ban-Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, is increasingly frustrated by his inability to make progress on key international issues from Darfur to the Millennium Development Goals.

An AFP news report alleged that -- uncharacteristically -- the Secretary General recently lashed out at his staff at a meeting in Turin: "Our job is to change the UN and through it the world. This is the big picture. I am frustrated by our failure, so often, to see it."

I would argue that the problem lies within ... it's the failure of the Secretary General to do his job as the world's first citizen that has compromised so many of the issues that might otherwise be addressed.

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This article was provided by Test Positive Aware Network.