The Sunday Mail
The 22nd Edition of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) being held in Zimbabwe this week is a historic event that highlights the nation’s outstanding accomplishments in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
More than 8 000 participants from 150 nations will gather for the six-day conference, which starts tomorrow, in Harare and Victoria Falls to discuss HIV and AIDS.
By hosting this conference, Zimbabwe is demonstrating its commitment to tackling the new issues brought on by HIV and AIDS.
This world event is extremely important to Zimbabwe as it coincides with the nation’s recent accomplishment of exceeding the UNAIDS 95-95-95 prevention targets.
These targets aim to ensure that 95 percent of all people living with HIV know their status, 95 percent of diagnosed individuals receive sustained anti-retroviral therapy (ART), and 95 percent of those on ART achieve viral suppression by 2025.
Zimbabwe should be applauded for achieving these targets ahead of schedule.
Most important, this is a noteworthy achievement that will be recorded in history books.
As rightly put by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) executive director, Ms Winnie Byanyima, Zimbabwe’s success story in attaining the 95-95-95 goals is exemplary.
The country’s success has been credited to the strong HIV programme, which has received support from the highest levels of Government and development partners.
Furthermore, the work being done by the National AIDS Council (NAC), which oversees the Aids Levy, demonstrates the strong political will and leadership in the HIV programme.
Such initiatives also highlight the country’s innovative approach to resource mobilisation in the fight against AIDS and STIs.
Indeed, this sustainable funding mechanism has clearly played a crucial role in ensuring the availability of resources for HIV prevention, treatment, and support services.
The hosting of ICASA 2023 is therefore an opportunity for Zimbabwe to shine and showcase the nation’s achievements.
The country should be commended for using this platform to share best practices with the international community, for knowledge-exchange and collaboration.
Zimbabwe’s home-grown funding solutions will undoubtedly be replicated as a model for other governments to emulate.
HIV remains a global health challenge.
World Health Organisation points out that African bears the highest burden of HIV infections, with Eastern and Southern Africa being the most affected, recording about 1,4 million new infections in 2020.
Furthermore, the region had an estimated 25,8 million people living with HIV in 2020.
The ICASA 2023 theme “Aids is not over.
Address inequalities, accelerate inclusion and innovation,” underscores the ongoing importance of sustained efforts to combat HIV and Aids.
As the world comes together in Harare and Victoria Falls, ICASA 2023 marks a significant milestone on the path to a future free from the burden of HIV and Aids.
It is also a positive reminder that the continent of Africa is on track to end AIDS by 2030 as per the commitments enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals.