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Saturday, May 25, 2024

ICASA ends

Story by Fungai Jachi

THE International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) concluded in Harare this Saturday, with participants acknowledging the need for enhanced coordination among leaders to end the AIDS pandemic as a public threat in Africa.

A week of fruitful deliberations, networking and synergies, Africa’s premier AIDS conference, The International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), has been described as a critical pedestal to formulate and promote critical strategies to ending the Aids pandemic on the continent.

Participants acknowledged the need for African governments and international partners to strengthen HIV responses.

“To end AIDS, governments and partners need to step up HIV prevention efforts to reach children, young women, girls and key populations,” said a participant.

Another said, “They need to ensure that every person living with HIV has access to treatment, both current antiretroviral treatments and new longer-lasting injectable medicines, to live long and healthy lives.”

“Collectively we are calling for health justice and equality for all people, including people living with and affected by HIV. Pharmaceutical companies need to put people first over profits by making sure that treatment is affordable and easily accessible,” said another participant.

Hosting the prestigious forum for the second time , after another one in 2015, Zimbabwe once again led the call for enhanced attention on HIV/AIDS, articulated in the closing remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ambassador Fredrick Shava.

“Stakeholders engaged in meaningful discussions and it is clear that AIDS is not over and it should remain on priority lists of governments. We hope that the outcome of the conference will help governments deliberate policy development and it will be implemented. We also have to invest in strong health care systems and also not only focus on medical unterventions but address social challenges that fuel the spread of the virus,” he said.

Over 8 000 delegates participated in this year’s ICASA which brought 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.

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