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Haiti Hosts Opening Ceremony of the 2009 International AIDS Candlelight Memorial: Worldwide Events Commence With the Announcement of a National HIV Testing Campaign in Haiti
Date:5/16/2009

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, May 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The opening ceremony of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial was held tonight in Haiti, kicking off over 1,000 Candlelight events in more than 100 countries as part of the world's oldest and largest HIV/AIDS grassroots mobilization event. Haiti was selected as the host country for the opening ceremony because of recent signs of progress the impoverished Caribbean country has shown in the response to AIDS. The event is being co-hosted by the Global Health Council and Promoteurs Objectif Zero Sida (POZ), a nongovernmental organization that provides prevention and counseling services around the country.

As part of the commemoration, President Rene Garcia Preval and Prime Minister Michele Duvivier Pierre-Louis encouraged the Haitian people to learn their HIV status and renewed the government's commitment to fight HIV/AIDS with a new six-month initiative to increase HIV/AIDS testing across the country. The Abbott Fund, the philanthropic foundation of the global health care company Abbott, is supporting this program by donating 500,000 rapid HIV testing kits. The testing initiative is a cooperative partnership between the Haitian government, the U.S. government, the Abbott Fund and local health implementing organizations that are working to stop HIV/AIDS in Haiti every day.

"We will see the best results for the health of the Haitian people when all partners -- government, nongovernmental organizations, faith-based organizations, and corporate organizations -- work together to make the best use of resources," said Dr. Myrna Eustache, Interim Director of POZ. "It is a tremendous honor for POZ to be the co-host organization to launch the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial programs in Haiti and to see that our country is recognized worldwide for the positive work we are doing to stop HIV/AIDS."

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SOURCE Global Health Council
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