The Champions for an HIV-Free Generation (Champions) are powerful advocates and use their influence and experience to urge governments and partners to take greater action in addressing the HIV epidemic.
In 2012, the Kenyan government committed to increasing domestic funding to its national AIDS response following a high-level advocacy mission in Nairobi with four members of Champions, Festus Mogae of Botswana, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania—all former African presidents—and Professor Miriam Were of Kenya, former chairperson of the National AIDS Control Council in Kenya. President Mwai Kibaki made the commitment during a press conference he co-hosted with the Champions at the end of the Champion’s visit to Kenya in August 2012.
During their three-day advocacy visit, the Champions also held discussions with the Cabinet sub-Committee on HIV under the authority of the Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, as well as the Parliamentary Health Committee on Health. They advocated for the elimination of new HIV infections among children and lobbied for greater domestic resources for the HIV response.
In 2013, an estimated 13 000 children became newly infected with HIV compared to 21 000 in 2009, showing a 38% decline. An estimated 60 141 children living with HIV were receiving ART in 2013, representing only 31% of all children living with HIV.
The Champions met with representatives from networks of people living with HIV, faith-based organizations, men who have sex with men, sex workers and the private sector. They also visited a community-based programme in Kibera—the largest temporary settlement in Eastern Africa—where the role of civil society in promoting and increasing demand for HIV services was showcased.
At the end of the visit, the Champions commended the country for its Rapid Response Initiative—a home-grown, innovative approach used to increase HIV counselling and testing levels, medical male circumcision rates and uptake of prevention of mother-to-child transmission services. They considered the initiative a best practice that should be replicated in other sub-Saharan Africa countries.