There have been five strategies that have proven to be successful in halting and even reversing the HIV epidemic in Africa, according to Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
“Africa has been relentless in its quest to turn the AIDS epidemic around,” Sidibe said.
Sidibe points to five strategies in the AIDS response. He is convinced that if people around the world approach how they deal with the HIV epidemic by incorporating these strategies, overall global health will also improve.
The five strategies are:
1.) Focusing on people, not diseases
2.) Leveraging the strength of culture and communities
3.) Building strong, accountable global heath institutions
4.) Mobilizing both domestic and international financial commitments
5.) Elevating health as a force for social transformation.
The report Sidibe discusses these five strategies in is called Update. Sustained attention to the AIDS response post-2015 will enhance progress on other global health priorities, according to Mr. Sidibe in the UNAIDS report.
“These strategies have been fundamental to Africa’s success at halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic and will support the next 50 years of better health, across borders and across diseases,” Sidibe stated.
The bad news is that UNAIDS substantiates that there are more than 7 million people now on HIV treatment across Africa. Nearly one million of these were added in the last year alone.
Also, though there have been some positive trends, Africa continues to be more affected by HIV than any other region of the world. Sixty-nine per cent of people living with HIV globally are from Africa.
In 2011 there were still 1.8 million new HIV infections across the continent, and 1.2 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses.
Ninety per cent of the 30 million AIDS deaths related to HIV have occurred in Africa since the virus that causes the disease was identified 30 years ago.
The good news is that, according to a United Nations report which documents the progress in the AIDS response in the world’s second largest continent, the number of people in Africa who are now receiving antiretroviral treatment has increased from less than 1 million to 7.1 million over seven years.
According to the report, there are sixteen countries in Africa which are working to ensure that more than three-fourths of pregnant women living with HIV receive antiretroviral medicine to prevent transmission to their child.
These countries are: Botswana, Ghana, Gambia, Gabon, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Sidibe takes heart in the fact that the five strategies he has implemented and the increase in the amount of people who receive the antiretroviral treatment have worked to help halt and even reduce the numbers of deaths caused by the HIV epidemic. From 2005 to 2011, AIDS-related deaths in Africa were reduced by thirty-two per cent.
This year’s Summit, AIDS Watch Africa, besides dealing with the topics of the importance of advocacy and accountability regarding AIDS, will also focus on the health issues related to tuberculosis and malaria.
African health care professionals who are experts on these subjects will additionally review progress on health governance, financing, and access to quality medicines, among other areas. They will work together to assess whether national, regional, continental and global stakeholders have met their commitments.
Africa has made great strides towards reversing the HIV epidemic by following the five strategies that Michel Sidibe discusses in his UNAIDS report, Update.
Having a balanced approach, in combination with the efforts of UNAIDS and other health professionals to make antiretroviral treatment available to all socioeconomic sectors of the African population, are some of the keys to the eventual eradication of HIV in Africa and the world.
Written By: Douglas Cobb