Zero Discrimination Day - Breaking the Cycle of Discriminatory Legislation

Champions H.E. Mogae, H.E. Joaquim Chissano and H.E. Kgalema Motlanthe at the HIV, Health and Inclusion high-level political dialogue in February 2019.  Photo Credit: The Royal Commonwealth Society/Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation in Africa

Champions H.E. Mogae, H.E. Joaquim Chissano and H.E. Kgalema Motlanthe at the HIV, Health and Inclusion high-level political dialogue in February 2019.
Photo Credit: The Royal Commonwealth Society/Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation in Africa

Countries across the African continent have committed themselves to protecting the human rights of their people through international treaties, declarations and legislation. Despite these agreements, however, discriminatory laws remain and individuals of marginalised communities, minority groups and key populations continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS.

Countries have made great strides in the AIDS response. Strong domestic and international investment has resulted in gains for the general public; new HIV infections have declined and people living with HIV are living long, healthy lives.  

Despite this progress for the general public; however, the HIV and AIDS response has failed to account for all individuals across key populations and minority groups including LGBT+ people.

Globally, men who have sex with men are 28 times more likely to become infected than the general public. Female sex workers and transgender women’s risk of HIV infection is 13 times higher than that of the general public (Miles to Go, UNAIDS 2018).

In certain Eastern and Southern African countries, HIV prevalence among specific key populations compared to the general population is significantly higher. For instance, HIV prevalence among sex workers in Mozambique stands at 60% and 45.8% in South Africa (Miles to Go, UNAIDS 2018).

Laws that discriminate against marginalised individuals push the people who need assistance to the periphery of mainstream society.  In the Southern and Eastern Africa region, 14 out of 21 countries criminalize same-sex sexual acts (Miles to Go, UNAIDS 2018). Also in the region, 10 countries hold laws and policies that demand parental consent for adolescents to access HIV testing services (Miles to Go, UNAIDS 2018).

Key populations, LGBT+ people and all other marginalised populations are further removed from opportunities to access quality health services including HIV prevention and treatment.   In Uganda, almost two thirds (64%) of survey people who inject drugs said they avoided healthcare services for fear of discrimination or of being reported to law enforcement authorities (Miles to Go, UNAIDS 2018). Surveys indicate that men who have sex with men who are living with HIV in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Eswantini and Lesotho were 10-40% likely to avoid or delay seeking medical care due to fear of discrimination (Miles to Go, UNAIDS 2018).

At the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation high-level political dialogue in February 2019, entitled “HIV, Health and Inclusion”, the Chairperson and former President of Botswana, His Excellency Festus Mogae, described the situation in many countries in Africa, “We are criminalizing the very people we should be helping.”

The HIV, Health and Inclusion high-level dialogue took place at an opportune time, a week before Zero Discrimination Day 2019 with a call to action to remove discriminatory laws.

The Champions and experts, including Catherine Sozi, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa, Steve Letsike of Access Chapter 2 and Sibongile Ndashe of Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa, called on Parliamentarians to be leaders of reform.

The Champions Chairperson urged Parliamentarians to advocate for inclusive legislation and to undergo a “systematic review” of laws in their country that criminalize and stigmatize key populations.

His Excellency Kgalema Motlanthe, the former President of South Africa, emphasised the critical role of Parliamentarians in securing the rights of key populations, “Members of Parliament must be at the forefront, eliminating barriers that hinder an inclusive environment that is free of stigma and discrimination.”

In supporting this view, Ms. Sozi called for inclusivity of action in Parliament, “when drafting bills for women, for example, Parliamentarians must ensure that the bill considers the complexity and diversity of all women. For instance women who are prisoners, sex workers, transgender, inject drugs and lesbians and other women who have sex with women.”

Harmful and inequitable laws “perpetuate violence and discrimination and undermine the health and prosperity of entire societies,” said Joaquim Chissano, the former President of Mozambique.

Zero Discrimination Day is an opportunity for national leadership to break the cycle of discriminatory laws in their countries.

 

Message of Condolences - Oliver Mutukudzi

The Champions are deeply saddened by the passing of music legend and HIV activist Oliver Mtukudzi. Oliver partnered with the Champions and Southern African musicians, Winky D and Vee Mampeezy, in producing ‘Safe MMC’ a song mobilizing men to get circumcised.

 May his soul rest in internal peace.

H.E. Festus G. Mogae - Former President of the Republic of Botswana and Chairperson of the Champions for an AIDS Free Generation

Safe MMC and features Oliver Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe), Winky D (Zimbabwe) and Vee Mampeezy (Botswana) and was coordinated by the Champions programme.

Leaving No One Behind in Ending Gender Violence

Professor Miriam K. Were, former Chairperson of the Kenyan National AIDS Council

Professor Miriam K. Were, former Chairperson of the Kenyan National AIDS Council

Prof Miriam K. Were

Member of the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation.

 

The right to health is an inclusive human right as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We frequently associate the right to health with access to health care and the building of hospitals. This is only partially correct for health extends further. It includes a wide range of appropriate social and economic factors that contribute to a healthy life. The well-being of everyone, female and male, is what the right to health is all about.  Yet the well-being of women is often interfered with not only by disease as we know it but by the disease of violence. Violence against women is a major public health problem and a violation of women's human rights. Sadly, no part of the world is free from this disease, be it violence against women in the form of sexual harassment in Europe, marital violence in Asia or violence against women in the Middle East through political and religious laws. High prevalence of violence against women in Central and South America is perpetuated through gang affiliation. In North America, violence against women takes the form of intimate partner abuse, physical and emotional abuse as well as sexual assault.

But the most severely affected region of the world is the African continent where no less than one third of African women have experienced domestic violence both physical and sexual. This begins in childhood as the majority show a preference for sons over daughters which sets the stage for low self-esteem for many African women that perpetuates a never ending cycle of violence against them. This violence is expressed in multiple ways including female genital mutilation to control a woman’s sexuality that is wide-spread in 28 countries with the prevalence of the practice ranging from 5% in Uganda to over 90% in Somalia. Rape of women is rampant and becomes a weapon of war in conflicts during which women are also impregnated. Emotional and physical abuse of African women is high and rises to over 70 % among women in some countries. In all these situations populations living in dire poverty with no education or low educational attainment have the highest prevalence of violence in general and violence against women in particular. All these fuel the spread of HIV infection.

Therefore, in this era of Agenda 2030 of Sustainable Development Goals, the global community should work together to ensure that programs are in place everywhere for eradication of poverty, education for all as well as family planning programs for managed and manageable lives in our countries. This crisis needs our urgent, constant attention. All these efforts will immensely contribute to having AIDS free Generations in Africa and all over the world.

2018 UN Day Message

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UN Day 24 October 2018

Today the United Nations remain relevant to our countries and it continues to stand and walk with us as we strive to bring change to our people’s lives and the continent. We salute you.

As we mark the birth of the United Nations, let us heighten our efforts and re-commit to leaving no one behind as we end AIDS as a public health threat. Let us heighten our efforts in eliminating stigma and discrimination, eliminating gender-based violence, ending child marriages, striving for   social justice and access to health for all.

We must remain engaged and be weary of the complacency that is threatening our progress in reaching an AIDS free generation. Ours should be a daily commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat. We can and we will end AIDS.


His Excellency Festus Mogae, Former President of the Republic of Botswana and Chairman of the Champions for an AIDS Free Generation

Message of Condolences - Former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan

Koffi Annan was a true internationalist with a heart for humanity. He unquestionably showed concern for the world’s poor and vulnerable, for those involved in war and for those whose lives were wrecked by natural disasters and disease. 

As the UN Secretary General, Koffi Annan visited my own country - Botswana in 2002, at the height of the devastating HIV and AIDS pandemic. We remain eternally thankful to him for his inspiration and support, as we fought the scourge. 

I pay tribute to the international community for recognizing merit and according Koffi Annan the opportunity to serve as the 7th United Nations Secretary General, as the first black man to do so. 

May his soul rest in eternal peace.

H.E. Festus G. Mogae - Chairman of the Champions for an AIDS Free Generation

Kenneth David Kaunda receives the 2018 UNAIDS Leadership Award for his contribution to the AIDS response

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Kenneth David Kaunda’s decades-long leadership in the AIDS response in Zambia and in Africa is being recognized by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation. 

Lusaka, Zambia │ 11 May 2018—The President of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, together with the UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, today presented the 2018 UNAIDS Leadership Award to First President of the Republic of Zambia and Champion for an AIDS-Free Generation, Kenneth David Kaunda. The award ceremony was attended by three of the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation: Hifikepunye Pohamba, former President of Namibia, Specioza Wandira-Kazibwe, former Vice-President of Uganda and Miriam Were, Chancellor of Moi University in Kenya.

The UNAIDS Leadership Award is given to high-level personalities who have made outstanding contributions to the AIDS response in the course of their professional and personal life. The award has been previously presented to Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General, and the First Lady of China, Peng Luang.

“Leadership requires courage, humility, integrity, humanity and compassion. Kenneth Kaunda has all of these qualities and more. He led Zambia to freedom and independence. He has completely changed the face of the AIDS epidemic by speaking out against stigma and discrimination, by using his voice to talk about HIV wherever he is,” said Mr Sidibé.

Mr Kaunda is well-known for his rejection of complacency and silence with regard to HIV. The death Mr Kaunda’s son in 1986 prompted Mr Kaunda to take a stand against HIV across Africa and since he has been a fierce advocate for ending HIV-related stigma and discrimination. A few weeks after his son died, Mr Kaunda publicly announced that his son’s death was the result of complications due to AIDS. At 94, he continues to urge his people to unite towards Ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

“This award is a truly heart-strengthening gift. But it is too great to bear alone. I therefore dedicate this award to all the Zambians who have lost their lives to AIDS. To all those fighting AIDS. To all those who have a personal commitment to Ending AIDS. No one must be left behind if we are to win. Count me in,” said Mr Kaunda.

Mr Kaunda has been a vocal advocate of the Zambia chapter of the Brothers for Life campaign. He has demonstrated a strong commitment towards achieving the UNAIDS 90–90–90 targets: ensuring that by 2020, 90% of Zambians living with HIV know their HIV status; 90% of people who know their HIV status are on HIV treatment; and 90% of people on HIV treatment have achieved viral load suppression. Mr Kaunda has on a number of occasions tested for HIV publicly, in order to show the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and should it be necessary, being able to access HIV treatment in order to lead a healthy life.

“This award is only given to those who have taken part in the AIDS response and deserve recognition. Dr Kaunda used the painful tragedy of losing his own son to talk about AIDS. By doing so he succeeded in challenging stigma. So we have succeeded because he succeeded. We share his success. He inspires us,” said President Lungu.

Mr Kaunda is one of the first members to join the of the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation, comprising former African Heads of State and other influential African leaders, in September 2008. These influential and independent leaders consider a robust AIDS response in Africa a critical part of their legacy. The Champions, individually and collectively, provide a unique resource to mobilize political leadership to deliver on an AIDS-free generation in Africa. The Champions group is chaired by former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae. Mr Kaunda is the Vice-Chairperson.

2017 World AIDS Day Message from H.E. Joyce Banda

This year the World AIDS Day will be commemorated under the theme: Right to Health. The right to health was first articulated in the 1946 Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO), whose preamble states that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”  The advent of HIV and AIDS has threatened this right to health on many fronts. To start with the burden of disease due to the HIV and AIDS and the allied tuberculosis epidemic and other related infectious diseases, has risen. Secondly, Africa has lost thousands of health professionals over the years as a result of AIDS. The deaths amongst human resources for health, coupled with the impact of workload of HIV and AIDS has had a profound adverse impact on overburdened and overstressed health workers as well as the already beleaguered health system.

An area of particular concern, which has become more pronounced since the advent of AIDS, is when a member of a family, especially the head of household has a serious acute or chronic health problem. Many poor families use all their resources to fund care in these catastrophic situations. This results in poor access to health care for the rest of the family members in addition to confining a whole generation to a vicious cycle of poverty.

It is, therefore, the role of every country to ensure that the right to health is not compromised. In order to sustain the national HIV and AIDS response without compromising Universal Health Coverage, governments need to put HIV prevention at the centre of National HIV and AIDS Strategies. This will ensure that the number of new HIV infections in reduced if not virtually eliminated. Today there we have the tools we need to end HIV and AIDS especially considering that the AIDS epidemic has been transformed from a deadly disease to a chronic illness. Prevention of Maternal to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) has been simplified with the introduction of Option B+ where all pregnant and breastfeeding women are put on ART irrespective of their CD4 count while the adoption of the Test and Treat, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP), Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and Treatment as Prevention (TasP) policies mean that we are at the door steps of an HIV free Generation. Governments, however, still needs to do more work on pediatric HIV and AIDS.

As we commemorate this year’s World AIDS Day, I call upon all governments and peoples of Africa to ensure that the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS are respected and that we leave no one behind. This will ensure that all people of Africa who need HIV and AIDS services can access them without fear of being stigmatized or discriminated.

International AIDS Day 2016

International AIDS Day 2016

Message of the Champions for an AIDS Free Generation

Issues of HIV and AIDS are very close to our hearts.

One of the most significant obstacles to responding effectively to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Africa has been lack of an adequate mechanism to mobilise leadership and foster accountability at this level. This is why we formed the Champions for an AIDS Free Generation Programme. Over the past eight years we have worked with partners and national leaders to use their individual and collective influence and moral authority to ensure that HIV and AIDS remain high on the political agenda of the continent.

We are all witnesses to the devastation this epidemic has caused on our continent in the last 30 and more years. It has killed people, destroyed individuals, families and societies. We have seen it reduce resilience and weaken capacities, hamper development and threaten our stability. A lot has changed since then and we have made remarkable progress. AIDS is not yet over, we must remain engaged. We must recognize that the progress we have made is fragile and that our hopes for the future remain under threat from complacency, inaction and unsustainable development.

We are concerned that Africa’s demographic dividend – the youth, especially adolescent girls and young women – is under threat. The current pace of Africa’s response to HIV and AIDS is too slow to keep our fast-expanding youth population healthy and productive. We are saddened that children are still being born with HIV on our continent, when they no longer should. Key populations continue to be disproportionately affected with HIV and new infections among them are on the rise. Stigma, discrimination and punitive laws continue to threaten progress.   

We have the tools and means to prevent infections. Prevention prevention prevention is key to ensuring that the millions who are not infected remain so. We must also ensure that those who are infected have information and access to treatment.

Even as we are seeing commendable efforts in domestic resources mobilization innovations in some African countries, we remain concerned by the low allocations to HIV and AIDS by many of our countries. Africa however, cannot do it alone - our international partners should also sustain and increase their long term pledges to address the funding gap for ending AIDS.

We believe that more can and should still be done if we want to see the full benefit and to end AIDS as a public health threat. We know that failure to act is failure to save lives and therefore failure to end AIDS.

Champions for an AIDS Free Generation

Champions for an AIDS Free Generation Message on ending violence against women and girls - 2016

Her Excellency Joyce Banda, Champion and Former President of Malawi, 2016.

 

During this period of reflection for ending violence against women and girls I’d like to speak to you about pre-adolescent girls, the harmful norms they face, and the need for better research and data around them. As we look forward to implementing the SDGs by 2030, we must look back to the missteps in our undertaking of the MDGs that let the girls of this world down. This includes—most unfortunately—our lack of attention toward socialization and cultural norms at the household and community level. 

 

 A recent study of girls aged five to twelve in more than 200 countries over 40 years found that rather than poverty, cultural norms were the stronger determinants of girls’ under-enrollment in school.  To reach SDGs 3, 4, and 5 we should expand focus to look at pre-adolescent girls and acknowledge the role of harmful attitudes and traditions in the most formative years of their lives. We need a research agenda that places pre-adolescent girls at the center of policy to address harmful cultural practices—both as an issue of gender based violence and also as an impediment to girls reaching their potential

 

When girls are taught in the framework of certain cultural practices to lower their eyes and to sexually please men, forced into marriage or enslaved to a shrine as atonement their rights to education, health and personal dignity go out the window at an early age. This is a disadvantage boys do not have, and it is one that establishes inequality long before the girl child becomes a teenager. 

 

 Improving norms at the household and community levels will be a big step toward ensuring girls' well-being, quality education, and equality.

Women's Month

"Champions should change the generation gap - open the door for young people to take the space and emerge as leaders in the AIDS response." Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, Dr Loures at the Champions' Tripartite Business Summit. July 2016

"Completing their education is the key to unlock mighty doors for adolescent girls." Nyasha Sithole @Afriyan - Champions' Tripartite Business Summit. July 2016

Zero Discrimination - Justice Cameron

"Let us encourage our young leaders and young people to take up the lead, to take up this responsibility. Let us encourage them to take the power of speaking out against discrimination. We know that stigma and discrimination exacerbate the risk of HIV infection, exacerbate death from AIDS because of non testing and non-treatment. Young leaders and young people can help by changing this; by speaking out against discrimination and for inclusiveness."

Justice Cameron

Champions mission programme- Sierra Leone

1.    Overview

The HIV prevalence in Sierra Leone has stabilized at 1.5% since 2005; it is 2.3% in urban areas and 1.0% in rural areas. HIV prevalence among pregnant women at ANC stands at 3.2%, which is twice higher than the prevalence among the general population. Currently, it is estimated that there are 55,000 people living with HIV in Sierra Leone, of which 30,000 are women aged 15 and above and 4,700 are children aged 0 to 14. Unfortunately, only 34% of these PLHIV know their HIV status as positive. Every year, 2,700 are estimated to die of AIDS. The Modes of Transmission Study also revealed that about 13.7% of HIV new infections come from Mother-to-Child Transmission and 3,300 infants are born to HIV-positive women annually. The 2013 HIV Seroprevalence Study on Key Populations indicates high HIV prevalence among Men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM – 14%), Female Sex Workers (FSW – 6.7%), and People-who-inject-drugs (PWID – 8.5%), and Prisoners (2.2%). Women are disproportionately affected by the epidemic and key populations and vulnerable groups are the key determinants of the epidemic.

2.    HIV Epidemic and response before the Ebola outbreak

The HIV prevalence in Sierra Leone has stabilized at 1.5% since 2005; It is 2.3% in urban areas and 1.0% in rural areas. HIV prevalence among pregnant women at ANC stands at 3.2%, which is twice higher than the prevalence among the general population. Currently, it is estimated that there are 55,000 people living with HIV in Sierra Leone, of which 30,000 are women aged 15 and above and 4,700 are children aged 0 to 14. Unfortunately, only 34% of these PLHIV know their HIV status as positive. Every year, 2,700 are estimated to die of AIDS. The Modes of Transmission Study also revealed that about 13.7% of HIV new infections come from Mother-to-Child Transmission and 3,300 infants are born to HIV-positive women annually. The 2013 HIV Seroprevalence Study on Key Populations indicates high HIV prevalence among Men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM – 14%), Female Sex Workers (FSW – 6.7%), and People-who-inject-drugs (PWID – 8.5%), and Prisoners (2.2%), Police (5.8%), Fisherfolks (3.8%), Military (3.3%), Migrant Population (2.5%). Women are disproportionately affected by the epidemic and key populations and vulnerable groups are the key determinants of the epidemic.

Figure 1: Target population with most new HIV infections

The HIV infection is highest in five main urban districts as shown in figure 2 below:

Figure 2: High burden Geographical locations 

Achievements

There has been an increase in PMTCT sites from 687 in 2012 to 691 in 2013 and Pediatric care services has been launched in 19 district hospitals. There has also been an increase in the uptake of ART from 8,529 in 2012 to 9,065 in 2013 and survival and retention rates of 93% and 71% respectively.  There is also an increase in HIV+ persons screened for TB from 5,355 in 2012 to 9,048 in 2013.  There is available evidence on key populations and their increasing involvement in planning and programming.  The main sources of funding include theGlobal Fund, the Government of Sierra Leone,  the German Development Bank, UN Partners, the Private Sector and Civil Society Organizations namely Solthis, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Christian Aid..

Major Challenges

The achievements made were not without challenges. Current challenges include: national response largely dependent on external financing, difficulty in expanding services and retaining quality because of limited funding, shortage of qualified manpower because of high turnover of experienced staff, domestic resources are hard to come by and NAS is looked upon as a donor, high TB/HIV co- infection rate (14%) and difficulty of coordinating partners and delivery of services because of weak health systems. 

 3.    Impact of EVD outbreak on national AIDS response

The national response was greatly impacted by Ebola outbreak on the national response.  There was drop in HIV service uptake compared to the 2013 levels with sporadic use of ARVs, inconsistent PMTCT delivery, 71% decline in HIV Counselling and Testing and fear for health service delivery points.  In terms of HIV programming, the impact had been halt in in-school youth and community sensitization programmes, loss of critical 225 human resource to EVD,  increased stigma directed at PLHIVs due to mistaken identity as EVD patients, psychological impact on beneficiaries due to confidentiality breach and reallocation of funds to EVD limiting funds to HIV programmes. 

4.    Post Ebola recovery for national AIDS response

The post Ebola recovery discerned two major approaches – Immediate (July – December, 2015) and Medium Term covering the period 2016 – 2017.  The objective of the immediate approach was to restore HIV services to pre-outbreak levels.  The Interventions to be pursued to meet this objective include:

  bringing back to treatment patients who have defaulted or lost to follow up(Defaulter tracing)

•       re-establishing services in health facilities( static services)

•  re-establishing mobile outreach testing and counseling services (outreach programmes)

•  community sensitization through community radio and meetings (social mobilisation)

         condom distribution (condom promotion)

          supervision and retraining

5.    Challenges

·         Insufficient behavioural impact of prevention interventions for adolescents and young people. High rate of early marriage, low condom use and multiple sexual partners with early sexual debut

·         Large coverage gap for testing, services to prevent mother-to-child transmission and antiretroviral therapy for adults and children. Health and community systems, including procurement and supply management remain weak.

·         Over-reliance on international funding (GFATM) at 95% because actionable political commitment, multiplecompeting priorities, weak governance, low allocative efficiency and limited absorption of funds undermine the sustainability of the response.

·         Persistent stigma and discrimination, gender inequalities and violence against women.

·         Weak sex- and age-disaggregated epidemiological and programmatic national and sub-national data especially on key populations, young people and adolescents.

·         Escalating fragile political situations as well as diseases from weak health systems

·         Recurrent humanitarian emergencies (food insecurity, floods, disease outbreaks)

6.    KEY actions needed

·         Achieve 100% coverage of peadiatric ART in 12 months

·         Achieve 100% coverage of PMTCT services in 18 months

·         Reduce mother to child transmission from 12% to less than 2% in 24 months

·         Ensure provision of HIV budget in the 2006 national budget

·         Achieve 80% of ART coverage among 54,000 PLHIV

·         Provision of targeted HIV testing services for key populations and high burden geographical locations

·         Intensification of defaulter tracing and adherence support (counseling, use of expert clients, health workers, NETHIPS and vow).

·         Cities initiative with mayors and community leaders engagement and strengthening community delivery systems.

·         Self-testing and community-based testing and delivery of antiretroviral therapy through task shifting and the use of new technologies.

·         The full potential of adolescents and young women and men unleashed to help realize the demographic dividend and reduce risk of and vulnerability to HIV infection.

·         Fully leveraging TRIPS flexibilities to secure sustainable access to affordable medicines, and strengthening local capacity to develop and manufacture quality affordable health products.

·         Integrated Supply Chain management using push and pull system

7.    Objective of Mission

The objectives of the visit are as shown in box 1: 

Box 1: Mission objectives

·         Re-energize the profile of HIV in post Ebola context to achieve pre-ebola context

·         Scale of services in the high burden districts

·         Emphasize the importance of “Leaving No One Behind” – most vulnerable women and girls

·         Promote HIV testing in KP and high burden locations

·         Advocate of increased financing of the national response using global solidarity and shared responsibility

·         Advocate for reduction of stigma at community

·         Promote strengthening of Health systems and alternative community delivery models using lessons learned from Ebola

 

A message from H.E. Dr. Speciosa Wandira- Former Vice President of Uganda: Day of the Girl Child October, 2015.

Today’s adolescent girl is tomorrow’s mother—the sustainer of humanity. To ensure healthy lives, she must champion the end of HIV/AIDS as a public health threat.

 As Champions for an HIV-Free Generation, we underscore among other issues:

 *The necessity to Empower adolescent girls, young women and women in every country across Africa to protect themselves against HIV and to have access to life-saving HIV services.

*Evidence-informed HIV prevention policies and programs which must involve and reach adolescent girls, young women and women, and must be adapted to meet their specific needs

*Access to antiretroviral medicines for all pregnant women living with HIV to prevent mother-to-child transmission and for their own health, including follow-up throughout their lives

*Engagement of adult men to know their status, to access treatment for their own health and to protect their partners

The above goals must be underpinned by a clear framework that captures information on the need versus service delivery, not only for record keeping but as well follow up to ensure that no adolescent girls and young women are left out.

 

 

International Day of the Girl Child: A message from H.E. Dr Joyce Banda former president of the Republic of Malawi

On October 11 every year, the international community commemorates the ‘International Day of the Girl Child’. I am deeply passionate about the protection and development of the girl child. In this regard, I wish to call upon and encourage my fellow Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation in Africa and the entire international community to step up efforts to ensure the protection and development of the girl child in the context of the recently adopted United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

It is imperative that the international community remains vigilant in protecting girls against early and forced marriages, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, gender-based violence, female genital mutilations and HIV and AIDS, among others.

 

I am aware that child marriages - a practice which affects 15 million girls a year with devastating repercussions on their health, education and wellbeing and the other vices against the girl child - are adequately addressed within UN SDGs framework. We must take further, effective and practical interventions to ensure speedy action on these critical issues. HIV and AIDS remain a devastating threat to the health of an adolescent girl. As leaders, let us remain vigilant in the fight against HIV and AIDS, especially where it concerns the girl child.

 

I am happy that the 2015 theme, ‘The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030’, is in line with the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation call for:

 

* Empowerment of adolescent girls, young women and women in every country across Africa in order to protect themselves against HIV and to have access to life-saving HIV services. Evidence-informed HIV prevention programmes must reach adolescent girls, young women and women, but they must also be adapted to meet their specific needs;

* Access to antiretroviral medicines for all pregnant women living with HIV to prevent mother-to-child transmission and for their own health, including follow-up throughout their lives; and

 

*Engagement of adult men to know their status, access treatment for their own health and protect their partners

Finally, I call on governments and the international community to maximize investment in adolescent girls’ education. I firmly believe that when you educate a girl child, you have not only educated a family but a nation. Educated girls are better placed to make informed choices about their own future and that of their families.

I thank you,

Dr. Joyce Banda

FORMER PRESIDENT, REPUBLIC OF MALAWI

10th October 2015

Africa’s private sector pledges to partner the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation

Representing the private sector, Brian Brink (left) agreed with the Champions that scaling up the AIDS response was imperative in order to avoid the epidemic spiralling out of control.

Representing the private sector, Brian Brink (left) agreed with the Champions that scaling up the AIDS response was imperative in order to avoid the epidemic spiralling out of control.

Representatives of African businesses met with the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation on 15 April in Johannesburg, South Africa, to explore partnership opportunities to reduce HIV infections and end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat.

The chairperson of the Champions, Festus Mogae, opened the discussion by emphasizing the significance of the private sector’s role in stepping up and amplifying the AIDS response across the continent.

Former Vice-President of Uganda, Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe, shared her story as a young doctor in Uganda at the start of the AIDS epidemic and warned against complacency. Alpha Oumar Konaré, former president of Mali, remembered the panic and hopelessness felt in Africa during the early days of the epidemic and how Africans had come together to decide that AIDS need not be fatal. He highlighted the need to build on current progress to keep young people safe and healthy.

Companies represented included pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer, leading South African health insurer Discovery, health-care company Aspen Healthcare and restaurant chain Nando’s. Other partners attending the lunch meeting included UNAIDS, the Southern African Development Community and the Economic Community of West African States.

During the discussion, representatives of major pharmaceutical companies underlined the need to find innovative ways of expanding HIV prevention programmes, with a particular focus on young people. In addition, they emphasized the importance of manufacturing medicines in Africa, including the active pharmaceutical ingredients, and stressed that the current demand on the continent would make the investment worthwhile. 

Representing the private sector, Brian Brink agreed with the Champions that scaling up the AIDS response was imperative in order to avoid the epidemic spiralling out of control. He said that big businesses in Africa were ready to rally behind the cause of the Champions.

The dialogue with the private sector came at the end of a three-day meeting of the Champions, which included talks with South African President Jacob Zuma.

Signing of The Declaration of the Champions

ΠThe Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation in Africa concluded their-three day high-level meeting in Johannesburg with the signing of The Declaration of the Champions.

The Declaration warns against complacency and calls for renewed urgency in response to AIDS.

The Champions call to action:

Œ 1. Achieve steeper declines in new HIV infections. 

 2. Focus on adolescent girls and women, the face of HIV in Africa.

Ž 3. Reduce external dependency through a common continental approach.

 4. Stronger partnerships for the urgent scale up of action. 

 

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Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation in Africa celebrate partnerships

The Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation in Africa—a distinguished group of former Presidents and influential African leaders—hosted a dinner in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 13 April to celebrate the role played by partnerships in ending the AIDS epidemic.

The evening included speeches to welcome five new Champions, a powerful contribution from a mother living with HIV and a special musical performance from Loyiso Bala, UNAIDS National Goodwill Ambassador for South Africa. Private sector representatives also pledged their support to move forward with the Champions. 

Champions who attended the dinner included Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana and Chairperson of the Champions, Kenneth Kaunda, former President of Zambia, Alpha Oumar Konaré, former President of Mali, and Kgalema Motlanthe, former President of South Africa.

The dinner came at the end of the first of three days of meetings and talks between the Champions and their partners to mark a strengthened commitment to ensuring that all children are born free from HIV and that both children and mothers living with HIV have access to life-saving treatment. During the day, the Champions also announced that they are extending the scope of their work to cover adolescents and HIV.

Partners attending the three day-meeting include UNAIDS, the South African Development Community (SADC), the SADC Parliamentary Forum, the Economic Community of West African States and the South African Broadcasting Corporation) Foundation.

Quotes

"The 21st century can only be Africa's century if our young people manage to stay healthy and free from new HIV infection, because the inconvenient fact shows us that they are at high risk of new infections."

Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana and Chair of the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation

“I am honoured to attend this very important meeting. I am going to work and work until the job of ending the AIDS epidemic is done. I don’t know about you but I’m ready.”

Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi

"Once the cause of ending AIDS is attained, the Champions become winners and we render ourselves irrelevant."

Kgalema Motlanthe, former President of South Africa

“We have the knowledge and the science to end the epidemic, but we need political leadership to break the complacency and to restore the urgency to the AIDS response.”

Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS

"We have a duty to protect young people and provide them with the continuity of care. We must realize that we can’t do business or grow our economies with an unhealthy workforce.”

Brian Brink, representative of the private sector

"The Champions can be our voices so that governments can be encouraged to provide HIV prevention, treatment and care services to all women living with HIV."

Lorraine Mashishi, representative of women living with HIV

 

We cannot afford to relax until we end the AIDS epidemic: Festus Mogae

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Former president of Botswana, HE Festus Mogae, and chairperson of the Champions for an HIV-Free Generation, shared a panel with other prominent speakers on how to position AIDS in the post-2015 agenda during the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), in Melbourne, Australia from 20–25 July 2014.

The panel, which also included UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, the Global Fund Executive Director, Mark Dybul, and HIV activist, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, debated on how to secure a global commitment to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

“We have to remain engaged, we should not relax, we cannot afford to,” said HE Festus Mogae. “If we fail to end AIDS by 2030, we will be directly to blame because we have the knowledge and capacity to do so.”

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for almost 70% of the global total of new HIV infections. Although new HIV infections declined by 33% between 2005 and 2013, an estimated 1.5 million new HIV infections occurred in the region. HIV treatment coverage also remains low with only 37% of all people living with HIV accessing treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2013, AIDS-related illnesses claimed the lives of 1.1 million people.

AIDS 2014 gathered representatives from science, government, civil society and the private sector to discuss together at a high global level the most pressing issues linked to the AIDS response. .

HE Festus Mogae is internationally known for his tremendous contribution in stemming the tide of HIV and AIDS in Botswana, one of the countries most affected by the epidemic. He was one of the first heads of state in the world to publically test for HIV. Under his leadership, Botswana became the first African country to provide free antiretroviral therapy to people living with HIV. In 2004, he also introduced routine ‘opt-out’ HIV testing, which helped in significantly increasing the number of people who know their status.

“While we do not underestimate the substantial amount of work that has been done…to convert what was a killer disease into a chronic one,” said HE Festus Mogae, “We still have a long way to go. The challenge of HIV and AIDS is still with us.”