Despite progress in development and delivery of efficacious HIV prevention interventions, more than one million HIV incident cases are recorded annually. There is global momentum to fast track HIV prevention when evidence from countries that have reached treatment targets demonstrates that the world will not end AIDS without stemming new HIV infections.
Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Region has made good progress in addressing the HIV epidemic. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of new HIV infections declined by 29%; among children was a 56% drop whereas in adults a 24% decrease was noted. Declines in new infections were greatest in Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe but in Ethiopia and Madagascar HIV incident rates increased – South Africa constitutes a third of all new infections in ESA region! In spite of these remarkable decline in new HIV infections, it’s not sufficient to reach targets of ending AIDS by 2030.
In 2016, the UN political declaration on ending AIDS by 2030 was preceded by establishment of a Global Coalition on HIV prevention with set targets and commitments. Achieving these targets, one may argue that it largely depends on a holistic approach in prevention which appreciates the structural barriers to access services. In recognition of this challenge, under the leadership of AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) and UNAIDS, WACI Health among other civil society convened in Johannesburg ahead of the Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) ministers of health meeting. It is from this consultation that civil society mobilized to discuss strategies on a national and regional level that have worked to address structural barriers to HIV prevention and where scale up is needed; explore available evidence; determine gaps in data and programming to inform future work and agreed on key advocacy steps that are needed to increase attention to prevention.
A panel discussion with key populations represented by Amsher, SWEAT, Tanzania IDUs and Gender DynamiX on HIV prevention
Photo credit: Jaque, UNAIDS
WACI Health participated in this meeting in her capacity as the secretariat to AfNHi. AfNHi is an African led network of HIV prevention research advocates based in Africa borne out of a joint vision by African Advocates seeking to fast track the biomedical HIV Prevention research agenda on the continent through local ownership.
Outcomes from this events included civil society reviewed progress of HIV prevention efforts in the region and implementation of the 100-day plans developed by SADC Member States following the launch of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition Roadmap in October 2017. There is need for continued political will and leadership at the national level to ensure that HIV prevention efforts gain momentum, are person-centred and no one is left behind – this among others is explicitly laid out in the Southern Africa Civil Society Statement developed.