Rise in other diseases, threat to fight against HIV and AIDS

Professor John Idoko, the newly elected President of the Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) has said in the past decades, there were rise in other diseases that have direct or indirect relationships with HIV and AIDS.

He said diseases such as Ebola and Lassa fever threaten to alleviate the fight against HIV and AIDS on the continent.

He said as they find remedy to prolong the lives of People Leaving with HIV (PLWH), diseases such as cancers, Tuberculosis, among others set in to destabilise their efforts, adding that there was areas that the organisation would have to expand its scope to have better health for all. 

Prof Idokoh who was speaking at the handing over ceremony of the 5th SAA Board to the new SAA Board elect also emphasised on the need to train more researchers and young scientists to improve research results in that direction.

That, he said, they could not do alone and called on the African Union, other African countries and organisations to partner their efforts to achieve the 90-90-90 targets by 2020.

The 90-90-90 targets is to ensure that 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their status; 90 per cent of all people infected with HIV will be receiving sustained antiretroviral treatment; and 90 per cent of all people on treatment will have viral suppression.

Seven countries, namely, Botswana, Cambodia, Denmark, Iceland, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom have already achieved the 90-90-90- target, while Northern Ireland and many more are close to achieving it.

However, the West and Central Africa region is still lagging behind.

Prof. Idoko noted that HIV and AIDS for the past four decades taught them a lot and expressed the hope that their dream of agenda 2030 would happen in Africa.

On progress, he said, there has been a major progress in the last four decades in battling of HIV and AIDS on the continent. “In the last four decades, we have made a lot of progress; recently there has been a decline in prevalence, and we have put more people on drugs”.

He also admitted that there has been a drastic reduction in the mother to child transmission, and commended all stakeholders for their continuous support of their activities.

The SAA was established in Kinshasa in October, 1990, during the 5th International Conference on AIDS and Associated Cancers in Africa, a precursor to the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA).

The formation of SAA with the support of the World Health Organisation brought to an end, the practice of organising the International Conference on AIDS in Africa, outside the African continent, thus, empowering Africans to address and respond to the challenges posed by HIV and AIDS on the continent.

Dr Mokowa Blay Adu Gyamfi, Director General, Ghana AIDS Commission, said since the inception of ICASA, which was organised by SAA, they have noticed that the burden of HIV and related diseases in Africa has stabilized in the face of considerable progress in access to prevention, treatment, care and support.

She said the platform provided by ICASA has helped increase knowledge on the virus, experience sharing, and development of strong networks and significantly reduced stigma in the society. 

She, therefore, commended the out-going President of SAA, Dr Ihab Ahmed and his team for their achievement over the years, especially their commitment in Africa’s effort to respond to HIV and AIDS.

“Dr Ahmed’s tenure encouraged transparency and stakeholders’ ownership of the Conference, institutional strengthening and capacity building and a good governance system, which has enhanced the image of SAA tremendously.

“..it is no news that, Ghana has made significant strides in the response to HIV epidemic in the last decade. These successes can be attributed to several factors including forging strong fruitful relationships with strategic partners such as SAA,” she said. 

Mrs Angela Trenton-Mbonde, Country Director of UNAIDS, said HIV is no longer a death sentence because antiretroviral treatment is now widely available and urged partners to  continue to consult and bring people living with HIV to the policy table.

In a statement read for him, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Minister for health, commended SAA for its support through the Ghana Aids Commission to organise the past and on-going National HIV and AIDS Research Conference.

He pledged that the Ministry would lead all initiatives to manage existing and emerging global health threats. 

Source: GNA

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