Solomon Islanders gathered to commemorate World AIDS Day with all major sponsors.

The celebrations started at the Ministry of Health with awareness being given on HIV/AIDS, followed by a clean-up campaign in the city.

Sponsors and volunteers later gathered at the SIBC to listen to a talk-back show, arranged purposely for the occasion.

Speaking at the talk-back show, the Permanent Secretary and Special Duty for Ministry of Health, Dr. George Malefoasi, said that the commemoration today was to stimulate awareness, dialogue and behavioral change among partners, communities and their leaders for HIV prevention and care.

Dr. Malefoasi reflected briefly on the theme of this year's World AIDS Day: 'Leadership: Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise', stating it is overwhelmingly evident that leadership and commitment did make a significant turning point in the HIV global epidemic in other countries.

He said that the theme for this year's campaign reflecting on leadership does not necessarily imply only at the political level, but also within families, communities, places of worship and work.

"Each one of us can play a part in the response to HIV and AIDS," Dr. Malefoasi said.

He revealed that under difficult conditions, the number of partner organisations to fight HIV/AIDS increased to engage in the prevention activities.

Dr. Malefoasi said this includes introduction of the voluntary HIV counseling and testing services and, in addition, the anti-retroviral therapy.

He said with the help of NGOs, there has been development on new ways of reaching the communities which, in turn, has transferred more knowledge and skills on ways to prevent HIV transmission.

"... Solomon Islands National AIDS Council is providing directions to the national HIV response, but it is also crucial for the success of the campaign that all leaders at all level play their part," Dr. Malefoasi stated.

He stressed on the need to take on the role of advocating HIV prevention and care programs, supporting and sponsoring local community initiatives, fight stigmatization and discrimination of people living with the virus and empowering women and girls from being vulnerable.

"Despite our diversity, I am very optimistic that we will be able, through open dialogue and critical analysis, to revitalize efforts towards achieving common goals to prevent and stop HIV/AIDS through leadership and commitment," said Dr. Malefoasi.