African Union and UN launch bold initiative to scale up HIV prevention in Africa

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African Union and UN launch bold initiative to scale up HIV prevention in Africa

19 April 2006

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In an attempt to step up the pace of HIV prevention in Africa, the African Union and United Nations launched a new initiative last week to scale up HIV prevention programmes in Africa.

The campaign, which was kicked off in Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Khartoum, and Ouagadougou, is a follow up to the Declaration adopted by African Ministers of Health in 2005, declaring 2006 as the “Year for Accelerating HIV Prevention in the African Region”.

HIV prevention deserves more serious attention if the goal of coming as close as possible to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care by 2010 is to be met. Without effective prevention activities, the impact of AIDS will become even more severe as more people becoming newly infected.

“AIDS responses must be exceptional, but not isolated, requiring balancing of political momentum on AIDS and putting countries in the lead” said UNAIDS Director for Country and Regional Support, Michel Sidibe. He also stressed the need for an appropriate balance between emergency action and long term commitment.

According to UNAIDS, AIDS poses the greatest threat to security and development in Africa. As a result, HIV prevention and treatment should be scaled up urgently. The number of new HIV infections in Africa must be dramatically reduced in the next few years to ensure that treatment, care and support remain economically and socially sustainable.

Despite efforts to fight AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, 3.2 million people were infected with HIV last year. HIV infections are rising most rapidly among young people under the age of 25 and women. 

The African prevention campaign is expected to build a powerful political and social movement that can finally reverse and stop the spread of HIV, which claimed 2.4 million African lives in 2005 alone. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region worst-affected by the epidemic with close to 26 million people living with HIV.