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Civil society groups which attended the 17th International Conference on HIV/AIDS and STIs have called for the establishment of an Africa HIV/AIDS Institute to help the process of thorough research towards finding a lasting cure for the disease.
“The agenda of achieving a zero stigmatization, zero new infections and zero deaths related to HIV/AIDS can only be achieved if African countries pull their resources together and invest in science and knowledge acquisition hence the research institute will go a long way in this direction”, they contend.
According to Manju Chatani, Senior Program Manager for the Alliance for AIDS Coalition, the time to move away from the old ways of doing things was now hence new ideas call for African leaders and various countries on the continent to pool resources together for the establishment of an institute with a sole mandate to conduct aggressive and scientific findings to find a cure for the disease.
She was speaking at a session on the topic, “Mobilizing communities for engagement on new prevention technologies discourse: progress, challenges and opportunities”, during the 17th ICASA.
“As advocates our tactics must be from today deepened and targeted at how to move donors, policy makers, care prevention practitioners, community leaders, the youth and all and sundry to contribute more of their quota to arrest the menace posed by the disease now by doing things differently”, she indicated.
Ms. Chatani applauded the work of advocate organizations which have resulted in getting more people to get tested, more gaining access to anti-retroviral drugs and deepening awareness on early testing, amongst other things.
A representative from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative – Prince Bahati, minced no words by asking leaders on the continent to as a matter of urgency invest more funds to research and find ways of engaging all groups to work out modalities to establish this noble institute on the continent.
“We Africans must be each other’s keeper and as such it’s important to pull resources together, build capacity of our people, share funding burden and generate community interest. Our governments must also be held accountable for the fight against HIV to be won”, he noted.
He indicated that by pulling resources and forming synergies the continent will delve fast into HIV/AIDS medication breakthrough to save the current generation.
“The fight towards zero targets on the disease can only be achieved if all facets and all populations are given the needed attention and care as well as favourable treatment”, Mr. Bahati noted.
On her part, Ms. Olayide Akanni, of Journalists Against AIDS indicated that the achievements so far made in prevention strategies, meant that if coherent efforts from all parties were implemented, communities will be more aware of current trends in fighting the disease so as to reduce infections.
“Circumcision was not a talk about subject in some African countries, although this cultural practice contributed immensely to the high rate of new infections in men in Southern Africa, Kenya and Uganda but through education, people in these communities are embracing this subject which invariably has reduced the risks and rate of new infections”, she emphasized.
She thus urged all African leaders to commit more funds and show high political will with actions in order to find a lasting solution to roll back the menace.