By the Champions for an AIDS- Free Generation on World AIDS Day 2016
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.