On Tuesday in
Johannesburg, South Africa, the African Union said HIV
prevention programs that focus on education, counseling,
testing, and condom distribution could stop 29 million
of the 45 million new infections predicted to occur
globally between 2002 and 2010.
several United Nations agencies, the A.U. launched a drive
to halt infections. "Africa must now seize the moment to
stop HIV," said A.U. Commission chairman Alpha Konare.
attention focused on access to antiretroviral treatment on
the continent, new HIV infections continue to spread in much
of Africa. The new campaign highlights the need for
stepped-up HIV prevention and testing and coordinated
education campaigns in 2006.
health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said a focus on
prevention is long overdue. "Over the past years there has
been a great deal of engagement over the issues
relating only to access to treatment," she said,
alluding to South Africa's slow rollout of public
antiretroviral treatment. "Let us all support this endeavor
to ensure that prevention reassumes its rightful
position as the mainstay of the global response to HIV
and AIDS," said Tshabalala-Msimang, whose government
has come under fire for failing to respond to what is the
largest national HIV caseload in the world.
an African pop superstar and UNICEF goodwill ambassador
who attended the launch, said the A.U. initiative must also
address gender inequities found in many African
countries. Experts say the huge social inequity
between men and women is a big reason African women are
more affected by HIV.
"We Africans have
to be able to deal with our problems," said Kidjo.
"Help from outside is all right, but we have to learn to be
responsible for our own attitudes." (Reuters)