100 African health experts discuss HIV prevention

A Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV) Pre-expo­sure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Collab­orative Regional Conference which comprises of more than 100 health ex­perts from 20 African countries opened yesterday in Accra.

PrEP is a critical HIV preven­tion tool that involves the use of antiretroviral medications by individuals, who are HIV nega­tive, but are at increased risk of acquiring the virus.

The participating countries include host nation, Ghana, Bo­tswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Kenya, Ma­lawi, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, South Africa and South Sudan.

The rest are Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bis­sau, Liberia and Senegal.

The programme sought to accelerate the scale up of the impact of PrEP reprogramming in the African region in order to improve access, uptake and effec­tiveness of PrEP as a key HIV prevention strategy.

Speaking at the opening, the Director General of Gha­na AIDS Commission, Dr Kyeremeh Atuahene, said Sub-Sa­haran Africa remained the region with highest burden of the HIV and AIDS disease

 He said the region had 660,000 of the 1.3 million new infec­tions reported globally in 2022, adding that since 2010, HIV new infections reduced by 49 per cent in the West and Central African Regions compared to 57 per cent in the Eastern and Southern African Region.

“Declines in new infections differed markedly between coun­tries and population groups while the overall declines in both re­gions were not significant enough to achieve the 2025 continental target,” Dr Atuahene said.

He said in spite of the demon­strable effectiveness of PrEP, it’s access was limited to select­ed populations due to financial constraints in most African countries, while UNAIDS reported that domestic fund­ing for HIV and AIDS programmes increased from 50 per cent in 2010 to 60 per cent in 2022.

Dr Atuahene said domestic invest­ments in HIV and AIDS programmes have declined in some African coun­tries.

“As internation­al funding continues to shrink, domestic funding for HIV and AIDS must increase to ensure adequate investments in high-im­pact prevention, treatment and care services, social justice and programmatic enablers,” he said.

Dr Atuahene also called on African governments to come to realisation that external donor’s transition and sustainability plans underscored the need for country transition readiness.

The Country Director Direc­tor of of UNAIDS, Mr Hector Sucilla Perez, said UNAIDS recognised the HIV PrEP as a game changer, considering its sig­nificant contribution to empower individuals to protect themselves from infections, especially those at risk.

“By scaling-up PrEP, we’re tak­ing a giant leap towards achieving the target of ensuring that 95 per cent of people at HIV risk use combination prevention. This action is fundamental to achieve our goal to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,” he stated.

The Country Representative of World Health Organisation, Dr Francis Kasolo Chisaka, in a speech read on his behalf, underscored the need to continue addressing the PrEP implemen­tation constraints while sharing best practices, lessons learned, and cutting-edge methods for demand creation and delivering of PrEP


A Human Immune

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