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Africa: Secretariat Serves On AIDS Panel 7 January 2011

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From left is DR. YIGERENU ABEBE (ICASA President), DR. SYLVIA ANIE (Director STPD) and PROF. ROBERT SOUDRE (SAA President)

The Commonwealth Secretariat has been nominated to serve on an international steering committee to support preparations for a global conference on HIV and AIDS.

The Director of the Social Transformation Programmes Division (STPD) at the Secretariat, Dr Sylvia Anie, has joined other experts from around the world to support preparations for the 16th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), scheduled to be held on 4 – 8 December 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Secretariat was nominated to serve the International Steering Committee in December 2010 and Dr Anie attended a meeting in Addis Ababa in the same month. The next scheduled meeting of the committee will be held in Addis Ababa in March 2011.

ICASA is held every two years in Africa under the aegis of the Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA), and brings together on average 8,000 participants from across the globe, including all 19 African Commonwealth countries. ICASA provides a forum for participants to exchange their experiences of responding to HIV, AIDS and STIs around the world.

Dr Anie said: “The Commonwealth Secretariat sees this collaboration with the Society for AIDS in Africa as an essential partnership as we advocate for the achievement of Goal 6 of the Millennium Development Goals – halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015 – across the Commonwealth.”

“We are delighted to have been offered this opportunity to serve on the International Steering Committee, where we will be able to encourage the inclusion of issues of emerging importance to the Commonwealth in the agenda for ICASA, such as Non-Communicable Diseases, HIV and AIDS.”

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and their linkages to HIV and AIDS have been included as a major abstract category for the conference. The Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) in Geneva in May 2011 will focus on NCDs.

President of the SAA, Professor Robert Soudre, said: “The 16th ICASA is an appropriate platform for the Commonwealth and the SAA to establish and strengthen their partnership. The time is really appropriate to encourage and acknowledge the driving forces that have helped stabilise the spread of the virus in Africa.”

The Commonwealth Secretariat will also arrange a side meeting during ICASA to focus on the essential role of women in addressing HIV and AIDS. This will highlight the Secretariat’s theme for 2011 “Women as Agents of Change”. The theme encapsulates the idea that by investing in women and girls through education, providing access to healthcare and by giving them the same opportunities and protection as men and boys, we can accelerate social, economic and political progress.

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