Friday, 15 January 2021

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On the fast track

Ends aids 121st International AIDS Conference opens in Durban. Photo: UN Aids

20.07.2016 – The 21st International AIDS Conference opened on 18 July in Durban, South Africa. Under the theme “Access equity rights now,” the conference echoes UNAIDS’ call to leave no one behind and provide comprehensive HIV services to everyone in need.

The fight against AIDS has come far, however, there is still a long way to go in order to end the epidemic by 2030, as stated in sustainable development goal number 3: Good Health and Well-Being.

Statistics show that an average of 29 adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 are infected with HIV every hour, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which is calling for a redoubling of prevention and treatment efforts.

“After all of the wonderful milestones achieved, AIDS is still the number two cause of death for those aged 10-19 globally – and number one in Africa,” Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of UNICEF said at the 21st International AIDS Conference. 

AIDS 2016 brings together some 18 000 delegates from 183 countries to work to strengthen not only HIV treatment, prevention, care and support programmes, but also the commitment to evidence-informed HIV research, overcoming the marginalisation of vulnerable populations, challenging discriminatory laws and championing a community-centred and rights-based response to HIV.  

The conference was officially opened on Monday evening by South Africa’s Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, United Nations Messenger of Peace and actress Charlize Theron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, AIDS 2016 Co-Chairs Olive Shisana and Chris Beyrer and Nkhensani Mavasa of South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign.

During the opening ceremony, Mr Ramaphosa presented Mr Sidibé with an award recognising his contribution to South Africa’s progress in the AIDS response.

End aids 3Photo/UNAids

AIDS 2016 is set to emphasise the need to build partnerships, promote community mobilisation to hold leaders accountable and ensure that HIV is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In addition, the conference, as always, provides a showcase for experts to present new research findings, scientific developments and best practices in programme implementation.

“To end this epidemic, we must close the gaps that keep people from accessing services and living with dignity. We have to expand resources, science and services,” Ban Ki-moon said at the conference.

End aids 4UNAIDS and Anglo American team up to promote HIV testing. Photo/UNAids

In 2012, UNAIDS and WHO estimated that 2.2 million people were living with HIV in the WHO European Region, including 1.3 million in eastern Europe and central Asia (EECA) representing and estimated adult prevalence of 0.7% in EECA and 0.2% in western and central Europe.


  •          To reduce new HIV infections to fewer than 500 000 by 2020

  •          To reduce AIDS-related death to fewer than 500 000 by 2020

  •          To eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination by 2020



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