On the occasion of World AIDS Day, U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Gordon Gray inaugurated a new AIDS prevention and testing center built for the benefit of the Tunisian Association for the Prevention of AIDS and Sexually Transmissible Diseases (ATL/MST SIDA).
The center, funded with a $500,000 allocation from the AFRICOM Humanitarian Assistance Program, will increase the association’s outreach to Tunisian youth and high risk populations and disseminate information about HIV/AIDS to the broader Tunisian public. The association’s 150 volunteers work to reinforce the Tunisian National AIDS Prevention Strategy by raising awareness and promoting prevention methods, primarily among marginalized populations including homosexual males, injection drug users, and prostitutes.
In his remarks at the opening ceremony, Ambassador Gray noted that Tunisia has wisely chosen to focus its efforts on AIDS prevention and has worked in unison with international partners to become a leader in AIDS prevention in North Africa. The Ambassador called upon the audience of civil society activists and public sector specialists to celebrate the hope that scientific research and global cooperation has given us and to continue to ”Lead with science, unite for action” in moving towards an AIDS-free generation.
In his remarks, the Ambassador expressed his gratitude to the U.S. Department of Defense for funding and supporting this project. Present at the event, Tunisian Minister of Public Health Slaheddine Sallami expressed sincere appreciation to Ambassador Gray and the American people for the realization of this humanitarian project in support of an important public health civil society partner that is helping Tunisia move forward in its effort to eradicate AIDS and to improve the living conditions of people living with AIDS.
The realization of this project was made possible thanks to the allocation of funds and strong support from the AFRICOM Humanitarian Assistance Branch and the 17th Air Force contracting and engineering divisions. The inauguration event was widely broadcast on local Tunisian television, radio, and in the press.