The 2023 theme of World AIDS Day, celebrated annually on 1st December, is “Let the Communities Lead”. This is a great theme, however, at Development Reimagined we have an additional theme “Africa’s Ascent.” Why? Usually, on most World AIDS days, organizations around the world sound the alarm. However, a UNAIDS Report published earlier this year shows significant progress in Africa on this once deadly pandemic turned epidemic.
The UNAIDS Report revealed that:
- Seven African countries have achieved the 95-95-95 targets – that is, 95% of people living with HIV know their status, 95% of those aware of their status receive life-saving antiretroviral treatment, and 95% of those on treatment attain suppressed viral loads. These countries are Eswatini, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Sao Tome and Principe.
- Eight other African countries are on their way to meeting these targets.
This is remarkable progress, given that HIV/AIDS had ravaged the continent and that data showed Africa had the highest number of infections in the early 2000s; it was also the leading cause of death in Africa. Progress has also been witnessed in the: – new HIV infections that fell by 37%, HIV-related deaths fell by 45%, and 13.6 million lives were saved due to Antiretroviral therapy (ART). There has also been significant progress in ART coverage, with considerable expansion between 2012 and 2022. The transmission cases were few in 2020 for two reasons: COVID-19 restricted movement but most importantly, ART coverage has greatly improved over the years.
Despite this progress, it is not the time to lower our guard – although again, we are not sounding the alarm!
The goal is to eradicate HIV/AIDS by the year 2030 under SDG 3 but this requires financing. Data reveals that funding for HIV/AIDS was significantly reduced in 2021. Data also shows that the funding was decreased due to countries’ little fiscal space during COVID-19 as finances were redirected to other sectors and the fight against the pandemic. Now, LMIC, including Africa, need US$ 29 billion per year to meet the SGD 3 goal of eradicating HIV/AIDS by the year 2030. Notably, fully financing the fight against HIV/AIDS will lead to a reduction of infections by 40-90% per year.
Local manufacturing has played a significant role in fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa. African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe manufacture ART drugs locally. But data reveals that local production does not meet local needs.
So, what do we propose?
While HIV/AIDS funding for access to drugs is essential, we propose that external funding be directed to local manufacturing. External funders must work hand in hand with existing local manufacturers to help them grow rather than crowd them out, to contribute to Africa’s health sovereignty journey.
Two, funding should focus on prevention, in a bid to ensure funding does not stop. Prevention includes areas such as: – maternal health, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Funding prevention will drastically reduce the number of new infections.
Again, we are not sounding the alarm; we are tracking progress, but this progress is not without shortcomings. So, on this World AIDS Day – as Africa continues with its ascent in the fight against HIV/AIDS – we propose funding be directed to local manufacturing and prevention.
Check out our infographic below to understand the data yourself!
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Special thanks go to Ivory Kairo and Rugare Mukaganga for their work on the graphics collecting/analysing the underlying data and this accompanying article.
The data was collated primarily from a range of sources, including the abovementioned UNAIDS report and World Bank data.
If you spot any gaps or have any enquiries, please send your feedback to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will aim to respond ASAP.