Magazine article New African

Good News AIDS Is on the Retreat

Magazine article New African

Good News AIDS Is on the Retreat

Article excerpt

African governments and civil society must demonstrate political leadership by collectively defining their own journey in their response to HIV-Aids and demand that their development partners support that vision. Now is the time for change, argue President Yayi Boni, chairperson of the African Union and president of Benin, and Michel Sidibe, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS in this opinion piece.

THE AFRICAN UNION (AU) Is taking the lead in transforming the face of Africa's Aids response through shared responsibility and global solidarity. A Roadmap--unveiled at the AU's recent summit in Addis Ababa--charts a course toward this new paradigm.

Hope abounds as the world surveys the progress in the Aids response. World leaders have even pronounced the beginning of the end of Aids. Nearly every country in Africa has success stories to tell of lives saved through stopping new HIV infections and preventing Aids-related deaths. In 22 African countries the number of annual new HIV infections has declined by more than 25% in the last to years. More than 6 million Africans are now receiving antiretroviral treatment--up from only 50,000 a decade ago.

Odile is among these 6 million Africans. Her story is at the heart of the Roadmap. She lives in Cotonou, the capital of Benin, with her four children. In 1997, she tested positive for HIV. Her first husband died a year later and she feared for her life too. As one of a fortunate minority, she was able to access HIV treatment. She has since remarried and had a baby girl who, thanks to a simple medical intervention of antiretroviral drugs, was born HIV-free.

In Odile's words, treatment has provided the gift of hope, the will to live, and the health and courage to care for her children. She is proud of her children, who are not ashamed of her HIV status, and has high hopes for their--and her own--future.

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The historic progress of the Aids response mirrors progress across Africa. The continent's economic growth surges across countries, fuelled by smart policy reforms and a marked improvement in peace and security.

Aid dependency is decreasing as growth strengthens domestic revenues; at least a third of countries receive aid that is equivalent to less than Do% of tax revenues. Together, these seismic shifts have enabled the beginning of a dynamic and sustainable cycle of domestic growth.

Growth and stability have lifted millions of Africans out of poverty over the past 10 years. The decade also witnessed significant reductions in child mortality, increases in primary school enrolment, and improved access to clean water.

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Yet there is no time to be complacent--no room to expect that what has worked in the past will continue to work in today's fast-changing world. Each day, 3,500 Africans die of Aids. At this moment, nearly five million Africans living with HIV are waiting for the treatment they need to survive. …

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