Update: How Africa Turned AIDS Around
UNAIDS reports more than 7 million people now on HIV treatment across Africa––with nearly 1 million added in the last year—while new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS continue to fall
New UNAIDS report highlights progress in the AIDS response in Africa
GENEVA, 21 May 2013—As the African Union (AU) begins its 21st summit in Addis Ababa, celebrating 50 years of African unity, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has released Update a new report on the AIDS response in Africa, documenting the remarkable recent progress against HIV on the continent.
The number of people in Africa receiving antiretroviral treatment increased from less than 1 million in 2005 to 7.1 million in 2012, with nearly 1 million added in the last year alone. AIDS-related deaths are also continuing to fall––reducing by 32% from 2005 to 2011 as are the numbers of new HIV infections which have fallen by 33% from 2001 to 2011. The report attributes this success to strong leadership and shared responsibility in Africa and among the global community. It also urges sustained commitment to ensure Africa achieves zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.
“Africa has been relentless in its quest to turn the AIDS epidemic around,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “As we celebrate 50 years of African unity, let us also celebrate the achievements Africa has made in responding to HIV—and recommit to pushing forward so that future generations can grow up free from AIDS.”
Africa continues to be more affected by HIV than any other region of the world, accounting for 69% of people living with HIV globally. Despite positive trends, in 2011 there were still 1.8 million new HIV infections across the continent, and 1.2 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses.
UNAIDS’ Update highlights key elements of the AIDS response in a number of African countries. South Africa, for example, is rapidly scaling up access to HIV treatment, with a 20% increase in the number of people receiving therapy from 2011-2012 alone. Sixteen countries—Botswana, Ghana, Gambia, Gabon, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—now ensure that more than three-quarters of pregnant women living with HIV receive antiretroviral medicine to prevent transmission to their child.
The report also affirms that AU leadership is essential to reverse the epidemic. Last year, African leaders adopted a Roadmap on Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity for AIDS, TB and Malaria Response in Africa, which laid out a response plan to improve health governance, diversify financing, and accelerate access to affordable, high quality medicines. At the Summit, AIDS Watch Africa, a platform for advocacy and accountability for the responses to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria founded by African leaders in 2001, will review progress in these broad areas and measure whether national, regional, continental and global stakeholders have met their commitments.
At the AU Summit, in recognition of the role the international community has played, the African Union Commission, with NEPAD and UNAIDS, will launch the first thematic accountability report on the AU-G8 partnership, Delivering results towards ending AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa. A unique contribution to monitoring and driving further commitments by the AU and G8, the report calls on both AU member states and members of the G8 to exercise greater leadership, particularly around access to medicines, sustainable financing, human rights and gender equality.
The post-2015 agenda
In Update, Mr Sidibé emphasizes that sustained attention to the AIDS response post-2015 will enhance progress on other global health priorities. He also further lays the groundwork for the post-2015 agenda by identifying five lessons in the AIDS response that will improve the world’s approach to global health. He calls for focusing on people, not diseases; leveraging the strength of culture and communities; building strong, accountable global heath institutions; mobilizing both domestic and international financial commitments; and elevating health as a force for social transformation.
“These strategies have been fundamental to Africa’s success at halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic and will support the next 50 years of better health, across borders and across diseases,” said Mr Sidibé.