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VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa is today set officially open the 18th International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa (ICASA) at the Harare International Conference Centre. At least 5 000 delegates from all over the world are expected to attend the conference which has attracted attention from various parts of the globe.
The Herald brings you live updates of the official opening of the conference.
LIVE FEEDS: Paidamoyo Chipunza
TWITTER: Simiso Mlevu (@HeraldZimbabwe)
UPDATES and EDITING: Simiso Mlevu
20:14 He has declared ICASA 2015 officially and duly opened.
VP Mnangagwa says financial resources needed to treat people living with HIV/AIDS are enormous and thanks the role played by the United Nations in helping in the fight against HIV. He has reiterated government’s commitment to the Abuja Declaration.
20:10 He says in line with UN 2020 targets of 90-90-90, as a continent we need to ensure that 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
“It is my sincere hope that esteemed guests during this conference will explore more innovative ways of circumventing mother to child transmission,” he says.
The guest of honour says access to treatment has improved adding that a considerable number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe have access to antiretroviral drugs.
20:00 VP Mnangagwa details the relationship between sexual transmitted infections adding that Africa will stand guided by its values and norms in fighting the pandemic. He quotes Pres Mugabe famous quote “We reject the politicisation of this important issue and the application of double standards to victimise those who think and act independently of the self-anointed prefects of our time,” he said. “We equally reject attempts to prescribe ‘new rights’ which are contrary to our values, norms, traditions and beliefs.”
He says he is delighted by the huge numbers of people from various sectors who have converged to share the knowledge on how best to fight and eliminate HIV and AIDS by 2030
19:55 VP Mnangagwa now making his address. He recognises various dignitaries present at the conference. He extends a heartfelt welcome to all present on behalf of His Excellency President Mugabe. He says as a nation Zimbabwe is honoured to be given the opportunity to host ICASA 2015.
He is introducing VP Mnangagwa to the delegates.
19:50 Dr Parirenyatwa takes to the podium and thanks all who have attended the official opening. He says it gives him great pleasure to be the host Minister of ICASA and hopes it will go a long way in changing minds and attitudes in Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole. He says the day has so far been helpful. “We have talked about breaking the backborn of HIV pandemic, we have talked about HIV and children, we have talked about HIV and girls, we have talked about HIV and women,’ he says.
19:30 UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibe commends Zimbabwe for its success story in reducing the burden of HIV despite difficult conditions. He also commended African countries for introducing AIDS Levy which he said has gone a long way in helping the fight against HIV/AIDS.
19:15 Renowned poet, Albert Nyathi reciting a poem on ending AIDS in Africa by 2030. He has donated his book – a poet dedicated to ‘MY DAUGHTER’ to VP Mnangagwa.
She says new drug alternatives are now available and this will facilitate better treatment and uptake of the drugs.
She says earlier uptake of Anti Retro Viral drugs prolongs peoples’ lives. We need to improve the quality of testing, she says adding that WHO is encouraging the TREAT all method.
The 90-90-90 targets say by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and that 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
Dr Moeti has urged all those who do not know their HIV status to go and get tested in order to make successful the dream of eliminating HIV and AIDS by 2020. She says the 90-90-90 can easily be achieved.
“We know that know many countries in our region are full of people of middle income status. We call for a change in the way we do business. ”
18:40 She said UNICEF has identified three things that need to be done to end AIDS and that is to address HIV in children and adolescents and strengthen treatment for HIV positive mothers.
18:30 UNICEF Regional Director, Dr Leila Pakkala takes to the podium and asks for yet another round from the gallery after the groups’ performance before making her remarks.
18:23 Tumbuka Dance Group, Mokoomba Afro-fusion group and Ndizvo Zvandiri present ICASA 2016 theme song as the whole auditorium sings along.
18:15 Dr Ihab Ahmed, President of the Society for AIDS in Africa gives opening remarks at ICASA 2015 official opening. In his remarks, he said the conferenceprovides an important opportunity for exchanging ideas and reviewing progress towards ending AIDS. He said this will be done in a number of ways such as poster exhibitions, plenary and parallel sessions.
He says as a continent (Africa) we have made progress against AIDS adding that it is possible to completely eliminate the pandemic by 2030. Minister Parirenyatwa has urged delegates to renew their commitments to fighting HIV.
17:55 Minister Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa has welcomed guests to ICASA 2015 is now spelling out the key message.
17:50 Guest of honor, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has arrived at the HICC for the official opening