Statement on World AIDS Day 2019

“Today we celebrate significant decline in mortality due to HIV and decline in HIV infections and related deaths which could not have averted without the unprecedented global response, community-led activism, the mobilisation of global resources and political commitment. We are encouraged today than ever before that ending AIDS as a public health threat by the year 2030 is possible but requires concerted efforts which are inclusive of community-led solutions. As we strive to achieve and sustain the 90-90-90 progress towards 2020 targets and the 2030 Agenda; it is more important to galvanise support to continuously support and empower communities left behind to amplify collective efforts in line with the global development agenda. We call for intensified African home-grown solutions led by communities coupled with focused and systematic improvement in domestic funding to the HIV response if the gains made so far are to be sustained. Communities Make A Difference! And are torchbearers of the HIV response” – Ms. Rouzeh Eghtessadi, SAfAIDS Executive Director

Although a lot has been done to address the HIV epidemic, this day reminds communities, governments and other key stakeholders of how much is still left to be done to fight a global epidemic that is still responsible for over 770,000 deaths and 1.7 million new HIV infections every year. This is a day to increase awareness of HIV, improve and strengthen partners to promote the global HIV response to prevent new infections, to show solidarity with people living with HIV (PLWHIV) and to remember those who have lost their lives throughout the years. This World AIDS Day is being commemorated under the theme, “Communities make the difference,,” a tribute and full recognition of the work done by communities and the difference communities have made in addressing HIV and AIDS at local, national, regional and global level over the past 3 decades. Communities have been at the forefront leading in creating and fostering local systems of psycho-social support for treatment and care, and effectively addressing stigma and discrimination. Additionally, communities in Africa have been spearheading the elimination of harmful cultural practices fuelling the spread of HIV and holding governments to account to honour their commitments towards ending AIDS and reducing new HIV infections. Without Advocacy from Communities of People Living with HIV, CBOs/FBOs, other community focused NGOs, the cost  of an retro viral medicines could not have been reduced significantly which has resulted in 24.5 million of the 37.9 million people living with HIV currently on HIV treatment. Communities therefore are central in ensuring that HIV remain high on the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals of not leaving anyone behind and in delivering the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Although significant progress has been made reducing HIV prevalence in the general population a lotmore need to address HIV among population who are still left behind where HIV prevalence is unacceptably very high. These populations include women and girls, adolescents and young people, sex workers, men who have sex with men and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI), internally displaced people, migrants and refugees. We call for governments and other stakeholders to come together and support these communities as part of a comprehensive HIV response. We also call upon governments to honour their obligation to be accountable to their communities in responding to HIV.

SAfAIDS joins like-minded stakeholders in observing the day, and hailing brave grassroots activities, movements and communities who have made a great difference in the global HIV response. SAfAIDS continues to work closely with communities, governments, civil society partners, political, traditional and religious leaders and other key stakeholders in promoting demand creation for HTS, prevention of new HIV infection, treatment and care, positive leadership and skills building and strengthening across the SADC region and beyond. Additionally, SAfAIDS continues to strengthen and support innovation in paediatric HIV responses, including prevention and elimination of mother-to-child transmission. On this day, SAfAIDS joins the clarion call emphasising, the need for improved and increased investments to support communities to continue leading the response, in the face of shrinking funding and opportunities. SAfAIDS also reiterates calls to amplify the critical role that communities play in addressing HIV as a public threat Today, and every other day!

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“On World AIDS Day, UNAIDS salutes the achievements of activists and communities in the struggle

against HIV. We remember and we honour all those whom we have lost along the way. Activists challenged the silence and brought life-saving services to their communities. But the countless contributions by women and many others can never replace the responsibility of governments…With communities in the lead and governments living up to their promises, we will end AIDS.”- Dr. Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, UNAIDS

 Knowledge for Action: The Power to Make a Difference!

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