WHO says HIV prevention efforts in Africa fragmented

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Despite progress made towards the acceleration of HIV prevention, programmes in most African countries remain fragmented, unco-or d inated and poorly funded, according to Luis G.
Sambo, the World Health Organisat i on's Director for Africa.
Many programmes were being implemented without clear strategic focus based on so und knowledge of the local epidemic or the factors driving the epidemic, Sambo s a id in his World AIDS Day 2007 message circulated here Thursday.
Addressing workers in the health sector, Sambo urged them to define national and district targets for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care as well as develop road maps to lead to the desired destination.
"Let us reflect on how we can exercise our leadership to improve HIV/AIDS progra mming in order to achieve a greater impact.
"We know what works and what does not work.
We need to co-operate with all partn ers, particularly civil society and communities, to massively scale up effective interventions towards universal access," he said in the message.
Stressing the need to do more in order to arrest the spread of HIV infection in Africa, Sambo pointed out that HIV testing, counseling and prevention of mother- t o-child transmission was at present unacceptably low.
It is estimated that only 12 per cent of adults on the continent know their HIV status while access to treatment and care increased significantly in the last fo u r years, from an average of 1 per cent in 2003 to 30 per cent in 2007.
However, 70 per cent of people in need do not have access to life-prolonging med icines, according to the WHO.
Meanwhile, important challenges in the provision of care and medicines include l ow adherence to treatment regimens and the development of anti-retro viral resis t ance strains.
Sambo noted that despite the decrease in prices, anti-retro viral drugs were sti ll unaffordable for most people in Africa.
"Therefore, the combination of intensification of HIV prevention efforts with th e scaling up of treatment and care remains the only realistic and effective stra t egy to stem the spread of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa," Sambo added.

29 november 2007 16:08:00

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