Africa’s biggest bilingual HIV/AIDS conference opens from December 7 to 11, 2013 in the South African city of Cape Town. The forum commonly referred to as ICASA 17, draws a large gathering of 10, 000 delegates to deliberate on disease on find ways of continuously addressing the menace.
During this meeting the base for all discussions will be how to achieve “zero stigmatization, zero infections and zero HIV/AIDS deaths”.
Thus ICASA will serve as a platform on which health system experts, biomedical, clinicians, social researchers, community leaders, and People Living with HIV/AIDS would share ideas on the disease in order to move the agenda forward.
“The AIDS response in Africa over the past 5 years have been acknowledged due to sustainable and tangible gains, thus the Theme of the Conference “Now more than ever: Targeting Zero”, is a cry out of Africa to the international Community, Africa Leaders, donors, government, civil society to renew their commitment towards Targeting Zero new Infection, Zero death related to AIDS, Zero discrimination so that Africa will be in the dynamic of the post MGD”, a statement from the Society for Aids Africa indicated.
The Coordinator of Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA)– Ghana, Luc Armand Bodea in an interview with WASH Times noted that the onus lied on all governments, donors, institutions and all persons to renew commitments to achieve a zero HIV/AIDS infection target as pertaining to the HIV/AIDS – THREE ZERO’s agenda.
He indicated that working arduously towards this target will go a long way to sustain the gains made in the sector and roll back the challenges during a post millennium development goal, after 2015. “The era of stigmatizing people with the virus should be something of the past, so as to enable people take the test. Those found positive can then be placed on anti-retroviral drugs to sustain them”.
Statistics from the World Health Organization reveals that over two million adolescents are living with HIV with many still oblivious of it.
For instance in Ghana only 280,000 people living with the virus have boldly opened up, thereby forming the National Network of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (NAP+ Ghana) but same cannot be said of other countries.
South Africa High Commission
As a host country, the South African (SA) High Commission in Ghana says its country is ready to host the 17th International Conference on HIV/AIDS and STI’s in Africa.
Hence, in Accra, the SA High Commissioner to Ghana, Madam Jeanette Ndhlovu, stated that her country was ready to host Africa’s largest conference which will provide a common platform for all to share ideas on pragmatic ways of dealing with the AIDS challenge.
“Our continent has been ravaged by this deadly disease and destroyed homes and economies thus it’s always welcoming that all efforts are continuously galvanized to deal with this epidemic”.
She assured all of her country’s commitment towards the drive to “zero new HIV and TB infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS- related and TB deaths”.
About The Society for AIDS in Africa
According to the organizers, Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA), the event has been planned two years before 2015, which is the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target date to offer a unique platform to Africa to take stock of the past achievements and challenges and to scale up the African response in the context of the MDGs.
The Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA), the custodian of ICASA was founded in 1989 at the fourth International Symposium on AIDS and Associated Cancers in Africa (now ICASA) held in Marseille, France by a group of African scientists, activists and advocates in response to this epidemic.
SAA envisions and African continent free of HIV, TB and malaria and their debilitating effects on communal and societal structures, where people are socially and economically empowered to live product lives in dignity.