Juliana da Concenca’o is a solider in Timor-Leste’s national defense force based in Hera just outside her country’s capital, Dili. Like thousands of her military peers over many years, Juliana recently joined 15 other soldiers for an info-session about HIV prevention – an issue that remains critical to her and her military colleagues. Led by Second Sergeant Jacob Soares and supported by CWS Program Officer Cristovao Ramos, the talk Juliana joined was one that is familiar – yet always worth repeating to help ensure vigilance against a still deadly infection. Appreciating this fact, after the session with her peers, Juliana commented simply, “I think the partnership for HIV prevention between our military and the United States military – with CWS team member from our country as our teachers – is really good. Honestly, before today I didn’t think or know much about HIV and AIDS … as my pre- and post-test scores show! But I learned a lot – going from 43% to 78% of correct answers!”
As CWS transitions leadership and facilitation of the US Department of Defense HIV Prevention Project to the Timor-Leste military in the coming weeks, the national team is quite proud of how CWS has helped their country’s military take on the persistent global issue of helping national armed forces educate their personnel to prevent still ultimately fatal HIV infection and AIDS. While it has always been an initiative a bit outside the CWS core mission, it was, and remains, an important issue in Timor-Leste. It is a point for additional pride that CWS has helped the national defense forces leadership, and the national Ministry of Health, commit to continuing this work.
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