3 December 2012

Africa: Up for Debate - What Will It Really Take to End Aids?

Photo: Glenna Gordon/IRIN
A red ribbon, the symbol for the global fight against HIV/Aids.

In the first of a series of debates in collaboration with the Skoll World Forum, leading experts consider a simple, yet critical question: What will it really take to end AIDS?

According to the latest report by UNAIDS, new HIV infections have dropped more than 50% in 25 low and middle-income countries. Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled what she described as a blueprint for an 'AIDS-Free Generation'. There may not be consensus on how best to tackle the AIDS pandemic, but it is impossible to doubt the depth of global commitment. However, while we celebrate this progress, we must still confront the challenges ahead. What will it really take to end AIDS? We asked some of the world's leading experts and innovators--representing the UN Global Plan, mothers2mothers, (RED), Riders for Health, ONE Campaign, the Center for Gender Health and Equity, and the Gates Foundation--to highlight key challenges moving forward, and how we can overcome them.

This debate was originally produced for the Skoll World Forum in partnership with Impatient Optimists at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The contributors:

Ashley Hickey, Chief of Staff and Policy Director, (RED): "The world is at a critical point in the fight against AIDS. After more than 30 years and 30 million lives lost to a preventable and treatable disease, scientific advancements have given us the ability to bring about the beginning of the end of AIDS." Read the article here.

Nicholas Muraguri, Global Secretariat to Eliminate HIV Among Children: "I'll start with the good news: less children are contracting HIV now than they were two years ago. This is due to country commitment, ownership and mobilization, political leaders breaking the conspiracy of silence and advocating for what's best, the strategic engagement of women living with HIV and the best science." Read the article here.

Mary Beth Hastings, Vice President, Center for Health and Gender Equity: "Gender inequality is HIV's best friend. Fortunately, the converse is also true - gender equality is HIV's nemesis. And by fighting HIV through advancement of gender equality, we reap all kinds of additional benefits." Read the article here.

Mitch Besser, Medical Director and Founder, mothers2mothers: "Thirty-four million people are living with HIV. Each year, approximately 1.4 million mothers with HIV become pregnant and deliver babies. With access to testing and treatment, mother to child transmission of HIV is almost entirely preventable." Read the article here.

Erin Hohlfelder, Policy Director for Global Health, ONE: "Following three decades of progress in the fight against AIDS, a sense of optimism is taking hold across the international development community, rooted in a number of landmark scientific and field-based studies suggesting that bold, strategic investments can turn the tide against the disease." Read the article here.

Stefano Bertozzi, Director, HIV Program, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: "Over the past decade, the world has made huge progress against HIV. According to the latest data released by UNAIDS, the global rate of new HIV infections has fallen dramatically with the greatest reductions in Africa. This includes declines of 73 percent in Malawi, 71 percent in Botswana, 50 percent in Zambia, and 41 percent in South Africa and Swaziland." Read the article here.

Dr. Lakshmi Karan, Global Strategy Director, Riders for Health: "The 2012 International AIDS conference touted progress in combating HIV/AIDS and creating an "AIDS-free generation". Through programmes like the President Obama's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, billions have been spent on prevention education, early diagnosis, treatment protocols and medicines. Pioneering partnerships galvanized the global community, and statistics and compelling success stories abound." Read the article here.

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