African first ladies and the African Union launch Free to Shine

06 February 2018

First ladies across Africa are spearheading a campaign to stop children acquiring HIV, prevent AIDS-related deaths and keep mothers healthy across Africa.

The Free to Shine campaign was launched by the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) and the African Union on the sidelines of the 30th Ordinary Session of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was launched during OAFLA’s annual General Assembly, which this year included 20 first ladies from across Africa, joining under the theme of “Transforming Africa through prioritizing children, adolescents and mothers in the fight against HIV”.  

The Free to Shine initiative was inspired by the progress and commitment from across Africa on stopping new HIV infections among children and aims to build on this progress by uniting people and organizations at the local and global levels to advance progress in ensuring access to HIV services to end AIDS among children and keep mothers healthy.



In 2016, around 160 000 children became newly infected with HIV.

Without treatment most children born with HIV will die before their fifth birthday.

In 2016, less than half (43%) of all children living with HIV had access to treatment.


The campaign’s goals include improving maternal and childhood HIV programmes across Africa by building networks and partnerships, advocating for domestic and global resource mobilization, raising awareness around HIV prevention and mobilizing support for childhood AIDS programmes in Africa by working with high-level international and regional bodies and forums.

The Free to Shine campaign, led by OAFLA and the African Union, is supported by UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, Abbott, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the United Nations Children's Fund, the United Nations Development Programme and AIDS Accountability International.


“Preventing new HIV infections will transform Africa’s broader health and development agenda and provide our children with a healthy and hopeful future.”

Roman Tesfaye First Lady of Ethiopia and President of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS

“UNAIDS is proud to continue to accompany the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS and the African Union and I know HIV will remain high on your agenda because ending AIDS will have an impact across the whole development spectrum.”

Michel Sidibé Executive Director, UNAIDS

Related resources

Free to shine website