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Great strides are reported in eradicating AIDS/HIV in Africa

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Once the fearsome scourge of the African continent, the rates of HIV/AIDS infection and AIDS-related deaths have dropped dramatically over the past several years. The progress is confronting and managing this deadly disease was part of a presentation at the African Union's 21st summit. The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS has released a new report on the AIDS response in Africa, documenting the remarkable recent progress against HIV on the continent.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - For once, the news is good. The number of people in Africa receiving antiretroviral treatment increased from less than one million in 2005 to 7.1 million in 2012, with nearly 1one million added in the last year alone.

AIDS-related deaths in Africa have dropped by 32 percent, nearly a third from 2005 to 2011. The numbers of new HIV infections which have fallen by 33 percent from 2001 to 2011.

The facts behind these impressive figures are being ascribed to strong leadership and shared responsibility in Africa and among the global community. Much work remains to be done. The report encourages sustained commitment to ensure Africa achieves zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

"Africa has been relentless in its quest to turn the AIDS epidemic around," Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé says. "As we celebrate 50 years of African unity, let us also celebrate the achievements Africa has made in responding to HIV - and recommit to pushing forward so that future generations can grow up free from AIDS."

Sidibé emphasizes that sustained attention to the AIDS response is essential. He identifies five lessons in the AIDS response that will improve the world's approach to global health. Sidibé calls for focusing on people, not diseases; leveraging the strength of culture and communities; building strong, accountable global heath institutions; mobilizing both domestic and international financial commitments; and elevating health as a force for social transformation.

"These strategies have been fundamental to Africa's success at halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic and will support the next 50 years of better health, across borders and across diseases," he added.

AIDS and HIV still continue to ravage the African continent, more affected by HIV than any other region of the world, accounting for 69 percent of people living with HIV globally. Despite positive trends, in 2011 there were still 1.8 million new HIV infections across the continent, and 1.2 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses.

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