On World AIDS Day

The incidence of HIV in Malta is on the increase - 'now, Let's End It'

World Aids Day (Photo: Shutterstock)
World Aids Day (Photo: Shutterstock)

The incidence of HIV in Malta is on the increase meaning that there is an increase in the transmission of the infection, the stigmatisation that surrounds the infection and the isolation that follows after someone is found to be positive. Throughout the years, we have fought the battle against the infection.

So now, Let’s End It - which is our message for this year’s World AIDS Day – let’s end the transmission, let’s end the stigma and let’s end the isolation. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and it has been celebrated every 1st of December since 1988. Annually, the Malta Medical Students’ Association (MMSA), more specifically the Standing Committee on Sexual and Reproductive Health, forms part of the worldwide fight against HIV, showing support for people living with HIV, and commemorating the lives of those who have succumbed to AIDS.

The 90-90-90 strategy is an ambitious treatment target set by the UNAIDS with the goal that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. We believe that it is our duty to be part of this movement and continue moving forward against the infection.

HIV is heavily stigmatised in Malta, and misconceptions must be dealt with effectively. On an international level, we believe that our events will help push towards the 90-90-90 goal.

The MMSA World AIDS day is an annual public event in Republic Street, Valletta, this year taking place on the 8th of December between 9am and 1pm. The event will incorporate a flash mob which will be used to attract people’s attention followed by MMSA members outreaching to the public and distributing leaflets regarding AIDS/HIV. There will be several stands on the day concerning rights of people living with HIV, rights of the LGBT+ community, a children’s corner, a fundraising activity in the name of those living with HIV/AIDS and a quiz board where people visiting the stand can answer questions regarding HIV/AIDS for the chance to win prizes and goodies.

So as individuals and as a country, it is essential that we nip the problem in the bud and take the necessary precautions to prevent contracting the infection.
   Informing oneself about HIV and its methods of transmission will allow us to move forward in our fight against the infection; a collective effort is invaluable in ending the infection once and for all.

Mathias Abela, MMSA


No Maltese MEP sponsors attendance for disability plenary

The Malta Federation of Organisation Persons with Disability (MFOPD) is the national umbrella organisation for the disability sector and is registered with the VO (VO / 0042). MFOPD is the Maltese representative in European and international fora amongst which the European Disability Forum (EDF).

EDF in cooperation with the European Parliament has been actively preparing the 4th edition of a major event: the European Parliament of Persons with Disabilities (EPPD). The EPPD is a landmark event which represents a unique opportunity for European citizens with disabilities, both leaders and grass-root activists, to have a dialogue with their elected representatives and speak up for their rights. It is a unique event which shows Parliament’s support to persons with disabilities and the importance of the dialogue between European citizens with disabilities and their MEPs. The discussions will focus on the right of persons with disabilities to vote and participate in political and public life, the European Disability Strategy 2020-2030 and the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) by the European Union (EU).

The event will take place on Wednesday 6 December (whole day) in the European Parliament in Brussels. It will bring together hundreds of delegates of representative organisations of persons with disabilities from all over Europe, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and high level representatives of other EU institutions.

The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and EDF President Yannis Vardakastanis will be opening the event.

In the first semester of this year EDF had suggested for all its members, including us, MFOPD, to contact our MEPs and ask each one of them to sponsor two persons to attend the 4th European Parliament for Persons with Disability. As was done by all EDF’s members, MFOPD contacted all our MEPs and asked for their support. Unfortunately, no Maltese MEP accepted to sponsor MFOPD to be able to send its members to Brussels to represent the Maltese umbrella organisation for the disability sector. While all other member countries got positive feedback from their MEPs and have secured quite a substantial number of sponsorships from them for this event, unlike their peers, Maltese MEPs failed to support the Malta Federation of Organisation Persons with Disability (MFOPD) which is the voice of all Maltese persons with disability. Our MEPs have failed to support us persons with disability and our family members.

Notwithstanding the above, MFOPD will still be present in the European Parliament due to the direct input of the European Commission. However, it is indeed sad that while our MEPs speak incessantly in favour of persons with disability, sometimes words speak louder than actions. This is in total contrast to the actions of foreign MEPs in favour of persons with disability within their countries.

Marthese Mugliette, President, MFOPD