Botswana's ex-president launches campaign for HIV-free generation

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- Former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, who won international praise for his battle against the HIV epidemic in his country, has launched “Champions for an HIV-free Generation,” a group of renowned African leaders calling for their peers to rethink and step up efforts to prevent the spread of HIV.
The group of champions includes Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique, Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda, former President of Zambia, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ethiopian super model Liya Kebede, South African Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Edwin Cameron and Professor Miriam Were, chair of the Kenyan National AIDS Control Council.
“Thanks to the unprecedented effort of the global community, millions are now receiving life-saving AIDS treatment – but for every two people we treat in Africa this year, five more are infected.
"We urgently need innovation and invigoration of HIV prevention in Africa,” Mogae, who called for strong regional leadership said in a press statement released in Mexico City during the launch Tuesday.
The Champions, highly visible leaders from all over Africa and different walks of life, will mobilise leadership in Africa and advocate effective policies and actions on HIV prevention.
As outspoken opinion-leaders, they will seek to initiate a dialogue in changing behavioral and societal norms.
“Not everyone might be comfortable with it but we need to talk about HIV, about stigma, about our behaviour, because silence and inaction are fatal,” said Miriam Were.
“Stronger, more visionary and outspoken leadership must come from the continent most affected by this epidemic,” said Edwin Cameron, adding “we must ourselves take more initiative to advance the practical solutions in prevention and treatment.
” “We have the solutions, but we need to dramatically increase our prevention efforts in a new and innovative way, which is why we welcome President Mogae’s initiative,” said Ambassador Mark Dybul, Coordinator of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), speaking for the public and private institutions endorsing the group of Champions.
Part of the prevention efforts will be the promotion of a delay in sexual debut, of safe male circumcision and HIV prevention to young men, and of a reduction in the number of concurrent sexual partners.
The collaborating partners, who included the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, the Bill

06 august 2008 20:17:00

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