Windhoek - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat has urged its member states and international communities to continue making sustainable efforts to combat HIV and Aids in the region.
The regional bloc acknowledged the importance of communities in the HIV response, adding that this year’s theme for the World Aids Day comes at a most convenient time.
In a statement on World Aids Day last week, SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax, said efforts by the international community had made significant strides in response to HIV in the region.
“This year’s World Aids Day was commemorated under the theme ‘Communities make the difference’. The theme is intended to recognise the critical role that communities have played and continue to play in helping to deliver HIV services, raising awareness, and more importantly, in the advocacy to ensure an enabling environment for a robust and inclusive HIV and Aids response,” said Tax.
“Almost four decades ago, the international community joined efforts to fight HIV and Aids. Since then, important milestones have been achieved, and HIV has become more manageable. Today, more people are aware of their HIV status and more People Living with HIV (PLHIV) are on treatment, and have a suppressed viral load, while leading healthy and productive lives.”
She urged the member states to continue to work with the international communities in order to reverse the negative impacts of HIV and Aids on the wellbeing and livelihoods of the communities.
Tax said there was a need for member states to continue to scale up interventions to accelerate the HIV response in SADC.
“There is a need to consolidate the gains made over the last couple of years by, among others, scaling-up interventions aimed at attaining the targets as spelt out in the United Nations Agenda 2030 on the Sustainable Development and the Universal Health Care (UHC) 2030 targets,” she said.
“There is also a need to continue to scale up interventions aimed at attaining the HIV fast-track targets of 90-90-90 by the year 2020. This is a commitment to have, by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status; 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV infection to receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy to have viral suppression. These targets will require collective efforts that ensure inclusivity of key and vulnerable populations.”
In line with the Maseru Declaration on the Fight Against HIV and Aids, SADC has continued to make progress and re-iterates its commitment to work with all stakeholders, including the civil society, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, international institutions, cooperating partners and the media, to deliver key interventions such as HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, as well as to generate evidence-based interventions through HIV research.
Dr Tax added, “This is to be coupled with innovative means to mobilise domestic resources aimed at bridging the widening funding gaps in the HIV and Aids prevention and response programmes.”
Although this year’s World Aids Day was commemorated under the theme: “Communities make the difference”, in Namibia it was commemorated under a sub theme: “Accelerating efforts towards epidemic control and ending Aids in Namibia by 2030.”
The World Aids Day was founded in 1988 to provide an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from Aids-related illnesses.