The World Health Organisation Africa Region Office boss says it is a haul longer and lengthier than 2030 for Africa to end AIDS as there the continent failed to meet set targets.
She said Africa may not end AIDS by 2030 as the HIV incidence cases are still high.
The WHO Africa Regional Director Dr Matshidiso Moeti said this in her World Aids Day statement.
“The continent as a whole is, however, unlikely to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, after we fell short of the expected 75% reduction in new HIV infections and 81% reduction in AIDS-related deaths by 2020,” she said.”Despite the very high percentages of people living with HIV who know their
status, and treatment rates, new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are not decreasing concomitantly.”
She noted that the neglect of key populations in the provision of HIV care and interventions adversely affected West and Central Africa.
“It remains critical for us to reach those who are fuelling the epidemic, addressing the persistent inequities in the provision
of quality care and interventions. For instance, in West and Central Africa last year, key populations and their sexual partners accounted for 72% of new adult HIV infections. “Yet punitive laws, policies, hostile social and cultural environments, and stigma and discrimination, including in the
health sector, prevent them from accessing services,” Dr Moeti said.
Dr Moeti bemoaned how young women beat the burden of high infections.
“In Sub-Saharan Africa, young women are twice as likely to be living with HIV than men. For adolescents aged 15 to19 years,
three in every five new infections are among girls who don’t have access to comprehensive sexuality education, who face sexual and gender-based violence, and live with harmful gender norms. They also have less access to school than their male peers,” she said.
She said this year’s theme aptly fits how Africa is battling two pandemics namely HIV and COVID19.
” As we come together with the global community on 1December to mark World AIDS Day, this year’s theme “End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemic” has particular resonance nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic.
We cannot express enough our support for those living with HIV, especially within a context where we know that treatment
and care have been negatively impacted across Africa by the demands of COVID-19. As we remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS this year, we also acknowledge the terrible death toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken, and continues to take,” she said.
Added Dr Moeti, “Going forward, we cannot afford to lose focus on the urgentneed to end the inequities that drive AIDS and other epidemics around the world. It has been 40 years since the first HIV cases were reported. Yet, in Africa and globally, it remains a major public health concern.
“Last year, two out of every three new HIV infections occurred in the African Region, corresponding to almost 2 500 new HIV
infections every day. Sadly, AIDS claimed the lives of 460 000 people, or a shocking 1 300 every day, in spite of free access to effective treatment.”
She noted the progress made by some African countries in the fight against HIV.
“Despite the challenges, Africa has made significant progress against HIV in the past decade, reducing new infections by
43% and nearly halving AIDS-related deaths. In the Region, 86% of people living with HIV know their status, and 76% are receiving antiretroviral therapy.
“We also salute Botswana, which is on the home stretch to eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission in what is a truly
remarkable public health success. Only 16 countries have beencertified for eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission,
none of which had as large an epidemic.
“It’s taken more than two decades of hard work by leaders, health workers and communities, illustrating what is possible when the health and welfare of mothers and children are
prioritized,” Dr Moeti said.