Panafrican News Agency

Rwanda set to host AIDS Conference

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) - The Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) has selected Rwanda to host the 20th International Conference on AIDS & Sexual Transmission Infections (STIs) in Africa from 2-7 December 2019 in Kigali, an official statement said on Tuesday.

The conference theme, "AIDS Free Africa - Innovation, Community, and Political Leadership", engages the whole continent and all stakeholders in the post-Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework, the organisers said.

The main purpose of the gathering is to ensure the sustainability of the response in reaching 90, 90, 90 UNAIDS by promoting human rights as a key priority for a new leadership in the context of strengthening the application of science-based evidence towards the scourge control and prevention.

The UNAIDS 90-90-90 target states that by 2020, 90% of people living with HIV should be diagnosed, 90% of those diagnosed treated, and 90% of those treated virally suppressed. The ultimate aim of this ambitious target is to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Official reports indicate that whereas someone who acquired HIV in the pre-treatment era could expect to live only 12.5 years, a young person in industrialized countries who becomes infected today can expect to live a near normal lifespan.

This is because HIV treatment is a unique tool in the AIDS response, preventing illness and death, averting new infections and saving money, it said.

Currently low- and middle-income countries have seen AIDS-related deaths plummet upon introduction of widespread HIV treatment especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

While global progress in scaling up HIV treatment masks considerable variation in access to life-saving treatment services on the continent, experts believe that substantial coverage gaps exist within and among regions in sub-Saharan Africa region.

Currently malnourished children in sub-Saharan Africa account for 29% facing nutritional challenges, making these services an ideal venue for case-finding and linkage to care.

However, UNAIDS says that just under half of countries in sub-Saharan Africa are likely to reach the ambitious 90-90-90 target and ultimately 73% of all people living with HIV in this region are predicted to be virally suppressed by 2020.

While the model predicts that 19 African countries will reach the first two UNAIDS targets if they maintain current rates of treatment initiation, 15 other countries would require a multiple-fold increase in the annual number of people starting antiretroviral therapy (ART), the report said.

In 15 countries (37%) – most of these in West and Central Africa – a more substantial increase is needed. The situation is most critical in Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania and South Sudan, requiring more than a tenfold increase, it said.

-0- PANA TWA/MA 22Oct2019