By Akeem Abas
Ibadan – Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) experts have identified six locations across the world with impressive progress in fighting the epidemic and contributing to ending it globally.
Mandy Sugrue, Communications Director, International AIDS Society (IAS), said this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Ibadan,
The statement said the locations were identified in a report presented at the ongoing 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science in Mexico by EndAIDS.org, amfAR, AVAC and Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
It said that reduction in HIV incidence and mortality was dramatically accomplished in Thailand, Malawi, Uganda, New South Wales, Australia; London, England; and San Francisco, US.
The statement said that the report provided a graph for each location, illustrating declining HIV rates and deaths as well as policy decisions that drove advances against the epidemic.
The report also mapped out the future, showing how the required policy, structural and research advances could propel dramatic progress.
Greg Millett, Vice President and Director, Public Policy at amfAR, said the report highlighted the reality that progress toward ending HIV should not be limited by geography or demographics.
“It also highlights how much easier we can achieve our goal by continuing to invest in scientific research, as well as policies that promote human rights,”Millett said.
Maureen Luba, Africa Regional Advocacy Advisor for AVAC, said the found innovation and early adoption of new guidelines were key to rapid scale up of treatment and prevention in Malawi, a country with few resources.
“With 91% of people who are aware of their status on HIV treatment, Malawi is beginning to show progress on the way to ending the epidemic.
“But we can’t declare success too soon; we can’t step back now in Malawi or anywhere else,”Luba said.
Chris Collins, President, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said the report provided a new narrative.
“Ending the epidemic isn’t an insurmountable challenge, but a question of putting the evidence to work and scaling access, particularly for those most at risk.
“It won’t be easy anywhere, but it is possible everywhere,”Collins said.
Adeeba Kamarulzaman, IAS President-elect, said the report provided important new analysis of what had worked and what could be scaled to build on the successes recorded.
“To eliminate HIV worldwide, we need not just great prevention tools, but also strategic and impactful investments and policies,”Kamarulzaman said.
The statement said that the common contributors to lowering HIV incidence and mortality across the six locations included campaigns to encourage HIV testing, particularly among groups that were most affected.
It said that free and easy access to treatment at the time of diagnosis with HIV Scale up of evidence-based HIV prevention such as voluntary medical male circumcision, pre-exposure prophylaxis and harm reduction were employed
Also included were concerted efforts to provide human rights-based services and social supports alongside programmes to fight stigma and discrimination.
The statement said that the six locations profiled in the report were selected based on their progress in response to the epidemic and the availability of data as well as information about local policy interventions.