A United Nations-backed AIDS conference opened in Dakar, Senegal, today, with participants set to discuss how to sustain progress made in preventing new HIV infections and reaching more people with antiretroviral treatment.
“The AIDS epidemic is not over in any part of Africa,” said Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), who opened the 15th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA).
“As African countries plan their next steps in addressing AIDS, it is necessary to now take stock of successes and challenges,” he added.
Some 5,000 experts from UNAIDS and international and regional organizations, among others, will discuss over five days positive steps made in the fight against AIDS, including an evaluation of the current state of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The conference is occurring at a time when the global financial and economic crisis, prolonged poverty and inequalities all pose obstacles for efforts to find new methods of slashing HIV infection rates, curbing AIDS deaths and having more people receive treatment.
Sub-Saharan Africa is still the most heavily HIV-affected region in the world, with some 22 million living with the disease. Last year, the region accounted for two-thirds of all people living with HIV and for three-quarters of deaths from AIDS.