News ICASA! - 2011 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sun, 20 Sep 2015 15:29:33 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Global Fund: We Are Here to Stay

global_fund2Addis Ababa, December 08, 2011 - When the Global Fund's Deputy Executive Director, Debrework Zewdie, was about to reminded audience members that the Global Fund's commitment to treat Africa's HIV/AIDS population is not in demise, a column of nearly 100 activists silently marched through the plenary carrying signs pressuring African governments and donors to recognize ownership of the AIDS epidemic.

The final plenary session of the 2011 International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) left the audience with a notion of hope and urgency that despite the Global Fund's cancellation of Round 11 disbursements, the organization will continue to campaign, raise funds and place pressure on governments in both the donor and recipient arenas.

"The Global Fund is here to stay," Zewdie said, receiving cheers from the conference attendees.

"We want to remind the donor countries that this is not the time to reprioritize the fight against AIDS, after having invested billions of dollars," she explained. "We want to remind African governments that they need to deliver on the Abuja commitment and start taking ownership in the struggle."

Zewdie also announced the Global Fund's latest strategy to set into practice priority criteria for countries in the highest need. "Our strategy remains to save over 10 million lives by 2016," Zewdie said. "In the year 2000, the world came together and people showed leadership. The global community funded the resources then; there is no reason to not find the resources now," she said.

Voices from within the global coalition of AIDS activists also had their say during the final plenary session. Seizing the microphone, an activist challenged African governments to designate more domestic resources to their dying populations. "It is time for Africa to take ownership. It is time to be invigorated and move with a response," the activist shouted to cheers from the audience.

Also on the final day, South African social justice advocate, Marlise Richter, reminded conference goers the need to remove social barriers preventing key populations such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), injection drug users (IDUs) and sex workers from receiving appropriate treatment in Africa. Besides removing social discrimination and stigma barriers, Richter called on PEPFAR leaders to remove their own "anti-prostitution pledge," a caveat placed on PEPFAR funds that prohibits funds to assist any program engaged in activities interpreted as advocacy for the decriminalization of prostitution.

global_fund1"We need to move form ideology-based ideas to evidence-based ideas and provide a voice for the population that cannot speak for themselves for fear of retribution," Richter said.

Over the last thirty years, the AIDS epidemic has killed over 15 million Africans, a number that has been greatly reduced thanks to antiretroviral treatment and continent-wide prevention programs.

"Today we stand at a critical juncture, and we find ourselves fighting for new resources but also fighting to protect the gains we have made," Zewdie exclaimed.

]]> (Betelhem Fasil) News Thu, 05 Jan 2012 08:57:37 +0000
ICASA 2011 at a Glimpse ICASA 2011 at a Glimpse

icasa2011_at_a_glimpseAddis Ababa, December 08, 2011 - ICASA 2011, Africa's largest conference on HIV/AIDS, brought together more than 10,000 participants from 103 countries, including scientists, health workers, people living with HIV, policy makers, civil society and non-governmental organizations, activists and government representatives to share and learn about successes, challenges and innovations in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS ended on the 8th of December 2011 as scheduled. The extraordinary conference served as a platform whereby many professionals networked, shared experiences and developed their skills and knowledge.

However, underlying the encouraging atmosphere, participants, presenters and conference organizers shared concerns about recent announcements regarding cuts in much needed life-saving funding for HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria responses. The financial blow that came from the Global Fund, which suspended normal disbursements until 2014, comes at the worst moment – when the use of antiretroviral drugs for treatment and prevention has dramatically reduced mortality from HIV and reduce transmission of AIDS.

The 16th ICASA did open colorfully in the presence of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, former US President George W. Bush, UNAIDS Executive Secretary, Mr. Michel Sidibé, and the Society for AIDS in Africa President Prof. Robert Soudre, and ICASA 2011 Dr. Yigeremu Abebe, diplomats, invited guests, participants and senior government officials.

Throughout the five days of ICASA 2011, over two hundred and twenty sessions took place, including sixteen plenary speeches, over fifty satellite symposia, seven special sessions, fifty-two oral abstract presentations, twelve oral poster discussions, thirty-seven non-abstract driven sessions, seven late breaker abstract sessions and forty-two workshops for community, leadership and professional skills building.

Five Young Investigator Awards were also presented for exceptional scientific research and work in the field of HIV and AIDS in Africa to two Ethiopians, one Nigerian, one Rwandan and one Senegalese. In addition, a daily exhibition booth gave over sixty local and international organizations and companies the opportunity to share their work, materials and ideas, and discuss important breakthroughs and activities with ICASA delegates.

The unique Positive Lounge, open through the week, provided a comfortable place for people living with HIV to rest and network, with complementary refreshments, space for informal meetings, and a private area for taking medications. There was also a disability center to those who need it, not to mention the catering, transportation, accommodation and security services provided for all.

icasa2011_at_a_glimpse1The Community Village, on the other hand, offered daily interactions and discussions focused on successes, challenges, and concerns regarding the provision of community and home-based HIV/AIDS care, and included various activities, ranging from a disability networking zone, community dialogue area, a youth pavilion, a 'Drop-in Center' to improve the livelihoods of commercial sex workers, and the 'Condomize' zone, a UNFPA initiative, launched at ICASA 2011 to provide condom education and promotional materials including condoms, t-shirts and pins. The Village also provided dancing and singing, coffee ceremonies, and a fashion show.

The ICASA 2011 closing ceremony was accompanied with a declaration that urged donors to continue to invest in global health through contributions to the global fund. Finally, concluding remarks were given by Youth Front, the National Network of HIV Positive Women in Ethiopia, the ICASA 2011 Chair, the Society for AIDS in Africa President, the African Union Commission, and Minister of Health H.E. Dr. Tedros.

ICASA 2011 final press conference was held on the final day with Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Ethiopian Minister of Health and Patron of ICASA 2011, Dr. Yigeremu Abebe, President of ICASA 2011, and Mikias Sissay, Communication and Promotion Manager of ICASA 2011, updated the media on overall conference outcomes.

]]> (Betelhem Fasil) News Thu, 08 Dec 2011 14:21:46 +0000
Sexual Reproductive Rights Equals Right to be Protected Sexual Reproductive Rights Equals Right to be Protected

sexual_reproductive_right1Addis Ababa, December 07, 2011 - Recognizing and respecting sexual reproductive rights among women and adolescents was the main message at the plenary session on the third conference day of the 2011 International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA).

Key note speaker, Tewodros Melesse, reminded thousands of attendees that "sexuality is not a western concept" and enjoying rights means "accepting a difference of opinion." In today's Africa, recognizing and upholding human rights-especially woman's reproductive rights and the rights of children and adolescents-continues to be hindered by stigma and discrimination.

Melesse, Director-General of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), shared the story of a homosexual adolescent from Cameroon whose life was shattered by discrimination from the community and his family until he finally found protection from a local HIV/AIDS association. "Having rights does not mean you will not be killed. Having rights means you will be protected," Melesse pointed out.

Another presenter, the young Zimbabwean Annah Sango, gave a speech on "HIV Vulnerability and the Gender Perspective." Over half of the 23 million people living with HIV throughout Africa today are women, and these women represent over 70% of the world's female population living with HIV/AIDS.

"Africa is the only continent with higher female HIV prevalence than male," she explained. "Reasons behind this include disparities in poverty and education among females." African women are also locked into performing certain gender roles and have less decision making power than male counterparts, thus creating oppressive atmosphere of social marginalization.

"Most adolescent sex in Africa is not consensual", and research has now shown new factors that increase a young female's vulnerability to HIV such as alcohol consumption and violent behavior by her partners. The solution of protection and treatment for adolescents and young women will not appear as long as "women are not at the center of the response," Sango said.

sexual_reproductiveOn the scientific side of HIV/AIDS, professors David Serwadda from Makerere University and Harvard's Phyllis Kanki, gave presentations about treatment as prevention and the current state of antiretroviral treatment in Africa.

Since the late 1990's, researchers know that when the virus is treated early with ART, transmission rates can be reduced between 30%-90%, according to studies. "But the consistent use of ART is critical to suppress viral loads and thus to the reduction of transmission," according to Serwadda. Adherence is a major issue in antiretroviral-treated Africa.

While ART was out of reach for Africa ten years ago, the prices of the pharmaceuticals have fallen making life-long treatment a real possibility for many. There are currently 5 million people in Africa on ART, and the treatment has decreased mortality.

Africa is still disadvantaged in terms of access to recently designed drugs and low and middle income countries that cannot afford the latest drugs see them. "In Africa, we have a shallow pharmacy and that increases pressure to provide the best treatment with limited choices. At the moment, absolutely no third line choices exist in Africa for people living with HIV," Kanki said.

In addition, ART coverage for African children is lacking, and only Botswana has equal ART coverage above 90% among adults and children. The best way to ensure ART retention is through care, education, family involvement and community support, according to Kanki.

]]> (Betelhem Fasil) News Thu, 08 Dec 2011 13:07:21 +0000
Dialogue on Sexual Rights of the Youth Living with HIV Dialogue on Sexual Rights of the Youth Living with HIV

sexual_reproductive_right_of_youthAddis Ababa, December 07, 2011 - A Session on Youth Sexual Rights brought to light the sexual rights of youths living with HIV and AIDS. In an interactive session, participants reflected their perception of what sexual rights are and who they think should have sexual rights. Participants' take on sexual rights were expressed with words such as choice, right to sex, sexual orientation, non-discrimination, equality etc. while almost all unanimously responded that sexual rights are for everyone.

Set up around a tool kit on reproductive health rights and general wellbeing that the youths from around the world developed and produced, triggered a lively discussion on several questions posed to participants based on their experiences.

Some of the comments include having the right to marry not only to HIV positive persons but also HIV negative ones, non-disclosure of status before going steady with partners, opting to be single or not, once diagnosed with HIV. Above all, participants had a heated debate on the ethics of pressured disclosure of HIV status before having any sexual relations.

Some argued that those who may be negative also have the right to health and should have the right to decide whether or not to continue having sexual relations as condoms do not provide 100% protection against HIV transmission, whereas others debated that pressures and laws on forced disclosure increase stigma and discrimination and discourage people from getting tested, something we should collectively fight against.

No consensus was reached, however it was noted that 'as sexual rights are based on human rights, proponents hold that young people have the right to have relations with HIV negative persons, the right not to disclose their HIV status and the right to choose their sexual orientation,' a principle not everyone agreed with. The debate remains ongoing.

]]> (Betelhem Fasil) News Wed, 07 Dec 2011 18:01:48 +0000
Wednesday Science Sessions Highlights

Addis Ababa, December 07, 2011 - A rich diversity of scientific evidence continues to be released at ICASA 2011, everything from ART retention to stigma and discrimination among authority bodies. Studies from a number of countries have identified key reasons patients miss their HIV appointments. In Liberia, death accounted for 54% of defaulters. Among those alive, financial difficulties for transportation, user fees were the most frequent reasons for defaulting. Evidently, money transfers and fee elimination are a potential retention solution.

It was reported that the time immediately after initiation of ART is the period of highest mortality. A study taking the records of over 165,000 patients has observed that half of the deaths occurred within the first 3-9 months of treatment. The elderly were particularly at risk, according to reports from Malawi.

In children, late initiation of ART and high early mortality are of serious concern. Disclosure has a profound influence on adherence to therapy and a positive outcome, according to a report out of Nigeria. The results of several studies on viral diversity from Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Ethiopia and Nigeria have reinforced the fact that continuous monitoring of transmission of drug resistant virus among drug naïve individuals remains an important public health issue.

A number of sessions highlighted the need to put in place legal mechanisms, such as HIV tribunals that are able to observe, document and enforce violations of human rights and to do so in ways that are sustainable. In a study conducted by the Ghana Police Service AIDS control program, showed on average, general knowledge of HIV among the police force was high (85.3%) but 65.3% and 57.4% of police officers respectively thought that MSMs and FSWs deserved to be infected.

This indicates that there is still much work to be done in order to positively influence societal attitudes and discrimination against MARPs. According to the scientific reports today, stigma and discrimination remain key aspects of daily life for most-at-risk-populations. A number of studies reported on innovative ways to ensure legal literacy and knowledge about rights that are afforded to PLWH in order to ensure that laws are enacted not just on paper but enforced in practice.

A number of studies confirmed that peer-support networks (for prisoners, for instance) and strategies that provide psychosocial support to adolescents, women and vulnerable children are essential for supporting HIV-affected individuals. In this respect, civil society networks – at local, country, regional and international level - continue to play a key role in the HIV response and should therefore be strengthened.

Young Investigator Awards were given to two scientists: Chioma F Umeuzuegbu, of St. Charles Borromeo Hospital, HIV Resource Center, Onitsha, Nigeria was awarded for her work on Reducing Loss to Follow-up through Effective Contact Tracking (CT). And Dawit Assefa from the Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute was awarded the Young Investigator Prize for his work on Evaluation of In-House HIV Drug Resistance Testing Assay.

]]> (Betelhem Fasil) News Wed, 07 Dec 2011 15:26:34 +0000
Speaker’s Courageous Words Accuse Donor Countries of Africa Neglect’s-courageous-words-accuse-donor-countries-of-africa-neglect’s-courageous-words-accuse-donor-countries-of-africa-neglect Speaker’s Courageous Words Accuse Donor Countries of Africa Neglect

plenary_session_day_twoAddis Ababa, December 06, 2011 - More women involved in high level decisions concerning HIV/AIDS in Africa, restoration of the Global Fund by donor countries who have backed out of their commitments and fewer excuses by donor countries for lack of funding.

Those were the main points of the passionate speech given by Stephen Lewis, Co-Director of AIDS-Free World, at the plenary session on the second conference day of the 2011 International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA).

Following plenary session speeches concerned mainly with prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), Lewis pointed out that, "it's the rare woman indeed who doesn't ultimately report to a man in the world of HIV," and given that PMTCT is essentially a woman's issue, women should be at the forefront of the struggle.

Lewis went on to chide HIV/AIDS organizations that dragged their feet for nearly five years, mired in "denialism" and silently waiting in a state of "self-justifying paralysis of excruciating scientific precision" before touting male-circumcision as defense against AIDS.

"I cannot forget the numbers of lives that might have been prolonged if we hadn't waited nearly five years to create the momentum that now propels us," he said.

Finally, Lewis struck a chord with the plenary audience addressing the donor community and the recent announcement of the Global Fund's inability to provide aid money for Africa between now and 2014. "It's unconscionable, indefensible, outrageous. It's murder. And the donor countries expect to get away with it because there's a culture of fiscal impunity," Lewis said.

Drawing on historical context, Lewis accused donor countries of "owing" Africa after having "ransacked" the continent for the last six hundred years, stating "the donor countries have no right to withdraw."

"The money from the Global Fund and PEPFAR amount to partial reparations," he said to thousands of attendees at the conference.

Lewis also called on President Barak Obama to increase the United States' contribution to the Global Fund from $4 billion USD to $6 billion USD to cover the funding gap created by European donor countries.

Other speakers in the day's plenary applauded African countries for reaching high levels of antiretroviral coverage for expecting mothers. "Mother to child transmission has to be contextualized within the constraints of maternal health," according to Senior Program Advisor for HIV at UNICEF. "And we need to redouble our efforts in family planning."

However, aiming to provide 90 percent of pregnant women in Africa with antiretroviral therapy (ART), countries such as Malawi, Angola, Nigeria, Chad and the DRC continue at less than 30 percent coverage. Yet countries like South Africa can rejoice in achieving the virtual elimination of MTCT, according to Professor Sheila Tlou, Director of UNAIDS Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa.

"The next challenge is to reach the poorest women and link facilities to the most deprived communities," she said, citing geographical coverage as the one of the main components of achieving the virtual elimination of MTCT.

]]> (Betelhem Fasil) News Wed, 07 Dec 2011 15:23:58 +0000
Community Village, the 2nd Day of ICASA 2011 Community Village, the 2nd Day of ICASA 2011

community_villageAddis Ababa, December 06, 2011 - Various activities, ranging from a disability networking zone, community dialogue, a youth pavilion, to Drop-In Center and Condomize zone were held in the community village. Different local and international organizations presented their work and the community village served as the perfect location to meet and share experiences. Other activities such as traditional dance, a coffee ceremony and fashion show also allowed delegates to network informally.

Different HIV and AIDS related discussions were held over a coffee ceremony, while the Condomization corner generated lots of traffic, amusing people with condom presentations and engaging delegates by offering the chance to create their own condom pin.

community_village1The Drop-In Center, organized by the Nikat Charitable Association was another interesting spot in the community village. The Drop-In Center is a unique program bidding to improve the livelihood of commercial sex workers by addressing the economical and psychological problems they face. It was a place where commercial sex workers and many others could rest, relax and receive different treats like manicures and pedicures.

The Youth Hot Spot was another corner where young people discussed issues such as a stigma free world and human rights. The "What's in your mind?" spot was a popular forum for young people to reflect and write down what they want to say. In the background, a live band named Music Mayday played different contemporary and traditional songs.

]]> (Betelhem Fasil) News Tue, 06 Dec 2011 15:19:59 +0000
Highlights of Science Sessions: ART Resistance and HIV-Vaccines Highlights of Science Sessions: ART Resistance and HIV-Vaccines

science_sessionAddis Ababa, December 06, 2011 - In the second day of Science Sessions at the ICASA 2011 conference, the audience was treated to presentations covering issues dealing with ART resistance, HIV-vaccine research and using mathematical modelling to test HIV-prevention and treatment.

The highlight of the day came when the young investigator Dr. Nafissatou Leye was awarded for her Track B oral presentation entitled "Echec virologique et resistance du VIH-1 aux ARVs après 12 et 24 mois de traitement de 1ere ligne au Senegal (Projet ANRS 12186)" which outlines the rates of failure of certain ART after 12 and 24 months..

Furthermore, several presentations dealt with the recent experience with ART initiation in Africa. Two presentations compared the efficacy and tolerability of simplified ART regimens. Other presentations addressed mortality and compared the risk factors and causes of death among PLHIV who are on ART versus pre-ART.

Several sessions were presented in the area of Basic Science. Speakers from Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and the USA all described advances in the use of HIV-monitoring assays and new technologies. The presentations stressed the need for the development of new approaches and tools to assist in the monitoring of immunological status and viral status of patients in Africa benefiting from the successful roll-out of ARV treatment.

Two presentations in particular - one from Ethiopia (Assefa) reviewed in house HIV drug resistance - and - one from the USA (Ulenga) reviewed the multiplex ligation amplification PCR assay for HIV drug resistance. Both presentations stressed the need for reduced cost, reduced assay times and applicability in the periphery.

In another session, speakers from Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda addressed the topic of defining the African HIV-Vaccine Agenda. The session focused on advocacy and promotion of HIV vaccine research and development. All speakers emphasised the need for African countries to recognise that in order to develop a successful HIV vaccine, more priority should be placed on support.

Several innovative approaches were proposed, including the use of Adaptive Trial Designs for clinical trials, which obtains results in real time and allows for several endpoints to be assessed in the same clinical trial, thus obtaining results more rapidly and at a reduced cost. Another alternative is the African AIDS Vaccine Partnership (AAVP), which emphasizes African ownership and contribution to all phases of the development of an effective HIV vaccine.

The two Track E sessions on Policy, Program and Health Economics focused on HIV cost efficiency and effectiveness as well as innovations and best practices. In the session on HIV cost efficiency and effectiveness, Patricia Doughty from UNICEF, as well as Dramane Kania from Burkina Faso spoke on the costs of PMTCT in low and middle income countries. In some countries, the range of indicates the potential for efficiency gains and assists future planning exercises for PMTCT. While in countries like Burkina Faso PMTCT services remain too expensive for the majority of the population.

Finally, the team from DREAM program conducted a mathematical modelling exercise to assess the impact of universal HIV testing of all adults and treatment to all HIV+ patients on a hypothetical sub-Saharan African population of about 300,000 persons where the HIV prevalence is 12%.

Results from this model show the HIV infection incidence will drop from 0.7% to 0.2% within the 5 years of initiation of a universal testing and treatment approach, with a dramatic reduction of the new cases by nearly 75%. The data demonstrates through mathematical modelling that prevention through testing and treatment can impact progression, transmission, and death rates of HIV.

]]> (Betelhem Fasil) News Tue, 06 Dec 2011 15:11:00 +0000
An Appeal for Africa to Own, Scale up and Sustain the HIV Response An Appeal for Africa to Own, Scale up and Sustain the HIV Response

plenary_session1Addis Ababa, December 05, 2011 - As the economic crisis continues to reduce global HIV/AIDS funding-especially among African countries-leaders from the 16th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) called on African governments to step up and fill the funding gap.

In the wake of the announcement of the Global Fund's lack of funds, it is now more important than ever for African countries to move toward a self-sustainable HIV/AIDS funding strategy. In the conference's first plenary session, speakers emphasized the need to develop alternative mechanisms of funding, most important of which will begin with African governments.

"The Global Fund announcement is a wake-up call," according to Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for West and Central Africa, Dr. Meskerem Grunitzky Bekele. "Donors have not made a commitment and African leaders have not stepped up with the promised 15 percent of the budget. Let's review our priorities."

Dr. Bekele accused African governments of not taking ownership of HIV/AIDS and thus failing to fulfill the promise made in Abuja in 2010 to set aside 15 percent of their GDP for health care and services.

In Africa, an average of 85 percent of HIV/AIDS funding currently comes from donors abroad, while 15 percent is from domestic budgets. The promise made in Abudja to earmark 15 percent of each African nation's GDP has only been met by 6 countries in Africa (Rwanda, Botswana, Niger, Burkina Faso, Zambia, and Malawi).

"Finance from the international community has peaked," says Dr. Peter Piot, HIV/AIDS expert from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "In 2010, donor funding dropped 10% due to fewer donations from European partners."

As donor funding decreases, people living with HIV and AIDS in Africa can expect restricted access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). In addition, new infections continue to outnumber ART treatment by a rate of 2 to 1. There are currently an estimated 6 million people on ART around the world.

Over the next twenty years, the global cost of AIDS will be between 19 and 35 billion USD, according to the Director of National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA), John Idoko. The current annual budget is approximately 15 billion USD.

Idoko suggests that middle-income countries such as Thailand, China, India and Brazil should be first to move towards self-sustaining models, while low-income countries such as Mozambique and Zambia are still in need of international funding and should be placed as higher priorities.

In order for both groups of countries to tackle the drastic decrease in HIV/AIDS funding, innovative financing will be necessary, according to Idoko. Targeted tax breaks, voluntary solidarity contributions and health insurance are just some examples of how African countries can close the gap and provide more ART coverage.

plenary_session"A total of 97% of HIV treatment is produced in India. We want to explore how Africa can produce their own treatment," says Dr. Bekele. "We need to transfer capacity and competence to Africans."

Over the last ten years, the use of ART has led to massive decline in mortality among people infected with HIV, saving at least 2.5 million, according to Dr. Peter Piot.

Since 1997, new HIV/AIDS infections have dropped by 26 percent, while ART coverage has increased 20 percent. The achievements have culminated in the "virtual elimination" of mother to child infection, according to Dr. Bekele.

Senegalese researcher and academic, Mafissatou Leye, was also honored during the plenary session for her abstract on virological future and resistance to antiretroviral drugs after 12 to 24 months. The award was presented by the Nambia's First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba.

]]> (Betelhem Fasil) News Tue, 06 Dec 2011 15:09:09 +0000
Highlights from Selected Sessions and Events Highlights from Selected Sessions and Events

Panel of First Ladies on HIV

first_ladiesThe First Lady of Namibia, current president of the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA), gave a short speech outlining the objectives of OAFLA, followed by African First Ladies' representatives from Rwanda, Namibia, Chad and Ethiopia, presenting achieved successes in the fight against HIV/AIDS in their respective countries and the roles played by the first ladies.

Among the successes mentioned due to the direct roles played by the African first ladies were universal access to care and support for those living with HIV/AIDS in Namibia, the integration of PMTCT services in child health facilities in Rwanda reaching about 80% of pregnant women, and female genital mutilation being declared Haram (or a forbidden practice) for the first time in the Afar region of Ethiopia where it was commonly practiced in a most severe fashion.

Three key priority areas identified by the President of OAFLA to be taken on in her term of presidency were: expansion of effective prevention of new HIV infections among children while keeping their mothers alive, promotion of effective communication and advocacy of HIV/AIDS related issues and re-organization of OAFLA membership to increase commitment, revitalize members and attract new ones.

poster_presentationPoster Presentations & Exhibitions

Poster presentation of abstracts were open for display today starting 12:00 at Dallol Hall in the dedicated ICASA 2011 Millennium Hall, to showcase research findings, best practices and strategies in the response to HIV and AIDS. Along with the poster presentations, exhibitions were also shown by various organizations, scientific and pharmaceutical companies displaying their works, equipments and strategies through various means.

Session on Antiretrovirals (ARVs) stresses that adherence to ARV studies must be contextualized

During a session on adherence to antiretroviral treatment (ART), speakers discussed how to accurately evaluate whether people are taking their treatment correctly, as well as the issue of how people develop resistance to certain antiretrovirals (ARVs). The question of how people in poor settings relate to their illness and treatment was also raised. It is clear that the price of ARVs remains one of the major deterrents for adherence to treatment, while levels of social support are also a major factor in the adherence or non adherence to drugs. Speakers added that an information gap exists and that there are not enough contextual studies on the issue of adherence to treatment factors. Speakers stressed that adherence to ARVs must be contextualized. For women especially, we must look at additional symptoms of ARVs, the provision of food with ARVs, and the availability of transport which allows women to travel to clinics and pick up their medicine. One speaker suggested that in the African context adherence to ARVs is strong because of strong social support.

Quotation of the Day

"....we can, however, say with great confidence that we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, there is no doubt that we will win this war against HIV and AIDS...."

H.E Director of IGAD, Ms. Netsanet Asfaw, representing H.E First Lady of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Africa is called for reliance on its resources for HIV and AIDS Funding

In a Ministerial Panel held today during the 16th ICASA, African countries are encouraged to exploit their own resources to finance HIV and AIDS responses in a bid to avoid foreign aid dependence. Presentation made during the panel spoke loud that Africa has been heavily relying on the international donors for HIV and AIDS funding. “The world’s 74% funding, for instance, comes to sub -Saharan Africa” said Dr. Debrework Zewdie. “As a result, the continent continues to suffer from big funding challenges from the cuts,” she added.

Resource gaps in African countries have become a big threat that can and must be surmounted by Africans themselves. According to the panelists, domestic money needs to be used for HIV and AIDS prevention and control. The current African economic growth and the political commitment to HIV and AIDS responses are encouraging. Africa should, therefore, be able to lessen its dependence on international funds.

The same idea was reiterated in a satellite session that deliberated on HIV and AIDS financing in sub-Saharan Africa. Increased domestic resources turned out to be one of the ways forward for Africa to overcome its funding crisis.

]]> (Betelhem Fasil) News Mon, 05 Dec 2011 16:18:45 +0000