Speaking at United Nations Headquarters in New York, the leaders of Kenya and Malawi co-hosted with the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) a high-level panel discussion on scaling up efforts to end the epidemic by 2030.While 2030 is only 15 years away this may seem like a dream, unless these efforts are trickled down to the community level together with support from the concerned authorities at the national level down to the county .
The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that all people with the HIV virus should be given anti-retro-viral drugs as soon as possible after diagnosis, meaning 37 million people worldwide should be on treatment.”According to UNAIDS estimates, expanding ART to all people living with HIV and expanding prevention choices can help avert 21 million AIDS-related deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030.”
Malawi led the world in revising the protocol for access to antiretrovirals for mothers. As many mothers living with HIV were lost to care due to delays in testing CD4 counts, it was decided that all mothers testing positive would be put on antiretrovirals without the CD4 count. Many other countries in the region and beyond are adopting this Option B+.
Reaching zero new infections in infants demands more attention to other aspects of the PMTCT programme. One of these is better access to contraception for women living with HIV so that they can plan their families better. Another is primary prevention in girls and women.Increasing prevention, testing, treatment and adherence are necessary conditions for ending AIDS.
Addressing stigma and discrimination, especially about gay men and lesbian women, sex workers and injecting drug users, is essential. These conditions can only be achieved through sustained community mobilization and engagement.
“Sexual education should be encouraged for teens to avoid early pregnancies,unsafe abortion, awareness on sexual reproductive health rights and men also to take a fore front in this fight” urged Michele Sidibe ,Executive director of UNAIDS as he was launching a H IV Situation Room, programme aimed at ending adolescent AIDS in the country.
“But they cannot do it alone and they need all of us. Because an AIDS-free generation is not something we can [simply] create,” “It’s time to act boldly on what we already know. It’s time to end AIDS”,he added.
by beryl onyango.