Regional: SAfAIDS Executive Director’s Statement on World AIDS Day 2012

Regional: SAfAIDS Executive Director’s Statement on World AIDS Day 2012

Date: December 6, 2012
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2012 has come and gone! We are now in December, the last month of 2012. As in past years, the 1st of December is a day when the whole world commemorates World AIDS Day. SAfAIDS joins the rest of the world in these commemorations. Let us continue to raise awareness about HIV and demonstrate our commitment and solidarity to all efforts in the global HIV response. This year’s commemorations continue with the theme: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.

As we continue with this theme, the question we should be asking ourselves is, are we doing enough as a region hardest hit by the pandemic to achieve this? The theme pushes us to go the extra mile since getting to Zero means that our commitment must go a gear up to ensure zero tolerance to new HIV infections, discrimination and AIDS-related deaths.

For us to achieve the three zeros, more efforts should be put into prevention, treatment and care services. As reported by UNAIDS (2012), some countries within the region have managed a 50% decrease in incidence rates, for example Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.. This shows that as a region, we are capable of achieving the zero vision. We should take stock of our achievements and challenges and re-ignite our efforts through introducing other exciting interventions to achieve out targets.

As SAfAIDS, we are expanding our key areas of strategic focus, putting more effort on young people’s Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) issues with a special focus on young women. These are the future leaders of tomorrow, and targeting our interventions at them will ensure tomorrow’s generation can easily achieve the three zeros. Through our Young Women First! Leadership and Young for Real programmes, we are making every effort to ensure that young girls’ sexual and reproductive health rights are addressed as this will mean they are protected from new HIV infections through the skills they acquire for them to make informed decisions.

I am therefore challenging us all to deter from the status quo. What are we doing differently to have innovative ways to address HIV, which will lead us to achieve the three zeros? The issue of dwindling financial resources for HIV needs to continue being addressed. Funding for prevention and treatment services needs to be increased for us to achieve great success. Some of our countries have witnessed increased cases of homophobia. This has resulted in minority groups being shunned and failing to access essential services for fear of victimization, and in some instances, arrest.

As we commemorate World AIDS Day, our levels of tolerance need to be upped if as a continent we are to achieve the three zeros. As SAfAIDS we commit to play our part in ensuring that the gains made will not be reversed. We reaffirm our commitment to Zero new infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths.

Source: SAfAIDS: Knowledge for action – the power to make a difference!!


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