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ICASA 2023 renews hope to end HIV

International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) 2023 president and president of the Society for AIDS, Dr David Parirenyatwa (left) and Dr Bernard Madzima, head of the 22nd (ICASA) local secretariat and chief executive of the National AIDS Council (NAC), exchange notes during a virtual meeting on the upcoming ICASA 2023 in Harare yesterday.

As Zimbabwe prepares to host the 22nd edition of the International Conference on Aids and STIs (ICASA) in December, there have been calls for nations to keep the fight against HIV alive.

ICASA 2023, which runs from December 4 to 9, is expected to bring together key stakeholders from across the African continent and beyond to share experiences and achievements of the remarkable progress made in reducing new HIV infections and increasing access to treatment.

Speaking at a curtain raiser press conference held in Harare yesterday to share major highlights of the important conference, ICASA 2023 president Dr David Parirenyatwa said the continent continued to face new HIV infections which needed targeted interventions.

“We are clear that the fight against HIV must continue because as our theme says ‘Aids is not yet over’, we need to continue to fight HIV and AIDS. There has been apparent complacency in the fight against HIV, people are now saying we have done enough for HIV, but we must remind each other that we are still seeing new infections especially among the youth. Therefore, we must continue to look at the key areas where we must fight HIV and AIDS,” he said.

According to the World Health Organisation, there were approximately 37,9 million people living with HIV at the end of 2018 with 1,7 million people becoming newly infected in 2018 globally.

The WHO African Region is the most affected region, with 25,7 million people living with HIV in 2018. The region also accounts for almost two thirds of the global total of new HIV infections.

While West and Central Africa reported a decline in new HIV infections, the region still has the second-highest number of people living with HIV in the world.

The East and Southern African region are, however, the most affected recording about 1,4 million new infections in 2020. The region had an estimated 25,8 million people living with HIV in 2020.

Dr Parirenyatwa said the ICASA 2023 would look at ways of addressing the burden of new infections on the continent.

“When we hold ICASA, we will hold it under three themes, which are leadership, science and the involvement of community. 

“We are aware that the young mothers, adolescent girls and young people generally are now considered a key population in terms of HIV infections and there are within this programme a lot of areas where this will be addressed. Specifically, we will address the issue of adolescent HIV and Aids,” he said.

ICASA 2023 will be held from December 4 to 9 this year and will see the Government partnering with the Society Against AIDS in Africa and various scientific and community leaders from Zimbabwe and other African countries.

Government on its part has expressed its commitment at ensuring the success of the conference.

Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Douglas Mombeshora who was represented by Permanent Secretary Dr Aspect Maunganidze said it was all systems go to host the most important Aids conference on the continent.

“All Government systems and structures are in place from Security, transportation, health banking, accommodation travel, and have been mobilised to provide support before and during the conference. 

“All delegates are assured that Zimbabwe remains a peaceful destination and their security will be assured. Our providers of accommodation services are all ready to provide services during the ICASA,” he said.

As part of ICASA preparations, Zimbabwe will host two high level meetings on December 2.

The African First ladies hosted by First Lady and the ambassador of health Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, will attend the first meeting which will focus on addressing Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.

The second meeting will see African Ministers of Finance address issues around domestic financing of the HIV response as well as other diseases to ensure universal access to health.

Herald

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