ONE issues warning to African leaders attending IAC: Step up fight against HIV and AIDS or risk millions of lives

Two-decades of progress towards defeating HIV and AIDS will be undone unless African Governments and the international community immediately step up their efforts to fight the disease, anti-poverty group ONE will warn delegates attending the International AIDS Conference in Durban this week.

Millions of lives are at risk because the year-on-year drop in new HIV infections has stalled, delegates will be told.

The number of people being infected by HIV remains stubbornly at 2 million a year since 2010 – and key to nudging the trajectory downwards again is for African leaders to invest 15% of their national budgets on health, the important conference will learn.

Mwambu Wanendeya, Africa Executive Director for ONE, said: “Africans and the rest of the world will learn this week if our leaders in Africa are serious about beating the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

“Investing 15% of their national budgets on health would not only save millions of lives, it would prove that we are all taking this problem seriously.”

Wanendeya said the international community must also play its part and join forces with African governments by replenishing the Global Fund, which has been leading the international fight against AIDS.

He added: “World governments must play a central role alongside their African partners. The Global Fund has set its replenishment target at $13 billion, and if donor-governments fail to meet this, fewer lives will be saved. Countries including the UK must,  like

African governments, step up  and make ambitious commitments to support the Global Fund.”

Nachilala Nkombo, ONE Deputy Director for Africa, said:  “2030 was earmarked by the international community as the year the disease would be defeated thanks to breakthroughs in health programs and medicines since the turn of the century.

“But a lack of funding in recent years risks a resurgence across the world’s poorest countries”.

Nkombo will appear on an African Union Panel on July 21 at the IAC in Durban. She will tell the panel that enabling girls and women –  who are the most at risk  – is vital if the disease is to be defeated.

Nkombo added: “As both HIV and poverty are sexist,  leaders from sub-Saharan Africa must take bold and meaningful steps to address the needs of women and girls who are at the centre of today’s challenge to  combat the disease.”

To highlight the critical importance of these efforts, artists from ONE’s Strong Girls will perform at the IAC Opening Ceremony on July 18 in Durban.

In 2015 during the AU Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development, The ONE Campaign joined forces with Africa’s top female pop stars to deliver the song Strong Girl, a rallying cry to empower women and girls to seize the opportunity to lead the fight against extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS and other preventable diseases. Performing as members of ONE’s Strong Girls include
Judith Sephuma (South Africa), Arielle T (Gabon), Waje (Nigeria) and Selmor (Zimbabwe).

In sub-Saharan Africa our young women are twice as likely as our young men to contract and be living with HIV.  It is alarming that every day over 850 young African women between 15-24 are infected with HIV” said Judith Sephuma, South African songstress and member of ONE’s Strong Girl campaign.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

To learn more about the Strong Girls, visit:
https://www.one.org/africa/take-action/stand-with-strong-girls/

Follow the Strong Girls at IAC on Twitter:
@ArielleTofficie

@judith_sephuma

@OfficialWaje

@SelmorMtukudzi

The Global Fund is on course to save 22 million lives by 2020. It is having its replenishment conference in September and if it meets its target of $13 billion it could save 8 million lives.

The IAC is being hosted in South Africa for the first time since 2000 and ONE will ask for governments at the IAC to bolster investments and programs that focus on meeting the needs of girls and women, who are more at risk of contracting the deadly disease than their male counterparts.

Every year, 390,000 adolescent girls and young women age 15-24 around the world are infected with HIV — that’s more than 1,000 new infections every day.

AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death globally among women of reproductive age, and among adolescent girls in Africa. If the Global Fund is fully financed it can save 8 million more lives over the next 3 years.

African governments should commit to a time table for annual progress towards meeting the commitment to spend 15% of the national budget on health, and increase per capita spending to at least $86 per person per year, in order to meet basic health needs.

NOTES TO EDITORS: Interviews and briefing papers before and during the IAC are available. Please contact Nicole Johnston, Senior Media Manager ONE Campaign on +27 63 698 1091.