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An honoring ceremony: Communities Lead
An honoring ceremony: Communities Lead

On the afternoon of November 17th, in Hai Phong, a ceremony was held to honor Communities lead, recognizing the invaluable contributions and persistent efforts of both individuals and collectives from community groups involved in implementing the DRIVE project (Project on Drug Use & Infectious Diseases in Vietnam ending the HIV epidemic among people who inject drugs in Hai Phong, Vietnam). The ceremony also acknowledged the dedication of organizations working in prevention and ending HIV/AIDS.  

Distinguished guests at the event included Prof. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, a French virologist and Nobel Prize laureate in Biomedicine (2008) for her groundbreaking work on identifying the HIV virus—the causative agent of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Also present were Prof. Yazdan Yazdanpanah, Director of ANRS, Dr. Didier Laureillard, experts from ANRS, Prof. Dr. Pham Minh Khue, and other esteemed delegates.  

Photo: Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah, Director of ANRS, delivered a speech at the community honors ceremony.

Each participant in the ceremony proudly put a red ribbon on their chest, symbolizing unity and dedication in the battle against HIV/AIDS, as well as the collective effort to diminish stigma and discrimination. The event commenced with a solemn candlelight vigil to honor those affected by HIV, followed by an infusion of distinctive and lively music and heartfelt narratives from community members. 

Throughout the implementation of the DRIVE project in Hai Phong, members of the community-based organization (CBO) played an indispensable role. Comprising individuals from the community directly impacted by HIV, CBO members are insiders who intimately comprehend the issue, empathize with the emotions involved, and can offer the most impactful support. They want to be able to help their community make a change. They are dedicated to helping their community evolve and create a positive impact. 

"Embracing a fresh start, I am dedicated to doing what we love, channeling our passion, and making a small contribution to our community.” 

Photo: Dr. Khuất Thị Hải Oanh (Director of the SCDI) presented certificates of commendation and gifts to the community members.

Discussing the role of community groups in implementing the DRIVE study, Dr. Khuat Thi Hai Oanh, the Director of the Center for Supporting Community Development Initiatives, emphasized, "Success in DRIVE hinges on the persistent dedication of the community—following customers consistently, day after day, month after month, and delivering services that align with the study's technical standards based on its criteria. These are distinctive traits that set the community apart, and no one else can replicate them." 

In addition to its pivotal role in the DRIVE project, the involvement of community members holds significant importance in the battle against HIV/AIDS. These individuals contribute substantially to supporting those living with and affected by HIV, facilitating early access to preventive and treatment services for high-risk individuals and those already living with the virus. Furthermore, their efforts contribute to minimizing transmission within the community. Although the journey has been challenging, it has also been marked by numerous memorable moments. During the ceremony, an emotionally moved community member expressed, "For the first time, I felt a sense of joy seeing my teammates shed tears." 

Photo: Communities take commemorative photograph

The ceremony celebrated this contribution to community members, acknowledging their exceptional efforts and ongoing commitment to self-improvement. It recognized their continuous strides towards personal growth, as they actively contribute to the overarching development of society.