AIROBI, 5 April 2011 (IRIN) - When Colonel Felix Ntungumburanye was first diagnosed with HIV 10 years ago, he struggled with the decision to disclose his status.
"It was very difficult because there was lots of stigma and discrimination," the Burundian colonel told IRIN. "When a person tested positive it was like a death sentence. Everyone was running away from you, everyone was afraid of you."
Young, highly mobile, sexually active soldiers are thought to be at particularly high risk of HIV. More than a decade ago, the UN Security Council discussed HIV/AIDS as a threat to international peace and security, galvanizing governments across the globe to take steps to address the pandemic in the ranks of their armies.
Since his disclosure, Ntungumburanye has been at the forefront of the fight against HIV in Burundi's army. Today, soldiers receive regular HIV prevention messages and are encouraged to go for HIV tests; those who test positive are put on life-prolonging antiretroviral medication.
IRIN's newest film, The Colonel, part of our Heroes of HIV series, tells the story of Ntungumburanye's fight to reduce stigma and improve HIV prevention and care in Burundi's armed forces.