By Haruna Gimba
The African Union on Wednesday told participants at the ongoing International AIDS Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa that closing the gap of new HIV infections is the way to achieve the bold and ambitious targets set at the continental level.
Africa led the HIV treatment access movement by putting 10.7 million people on treatment, contributing to the global targets to put 15 million people on treatment by 2015, achieved nine months ahead of schedule. The meeting urged Africa to similarly take a lead role in HIV prevention.
According to statement by Aids Watch Africa, building the momentum for HIV prevention is anchored on expanding both biomedical and proven primary prevention interventions. The Head of AIDS, TB, Malaria and Other Infectious Diseases at the African Union Commission, Dr. Marie-Goretti Harakeye, said to be more effective HIV prevention packages should be evidence informed and meet local needs.
“Leaders and activists at various levels should continue to work together to catalyse change, stop new HIV infections and leave no one behind. Prevention of HIV transmission continues to be affected by structural barriers such as poverty and other social factors that will need to be addressed broadly,” he said. “We have the science, innovation and tools for an HIV prevention movement. For greater impact and results we need to invest equally in prevention and treatment,” said Dr. Papa Salif Sow, Vice President for Africa, Gilead Sciences.
“While significant progress has been achieved in eliminating new HIV infections and keep mothers alive and healthy across Africa, only 5 countries on the continent have reached 95 per cent coverage. This calls for stepped up efforts to translate the existing political commitments into more sustained action in communities that are at great need of services,” said Chip Lyons, President and CEO of EGPAF.