Published On: Wed, Nov 6th, 2013

Zuma, Banda, Others to Deliver Lecture at HIV/AIDS International Conference

South African President, Mr Jacob Zuma

By Oghenekevwe Laba
President of Republic of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma. President of Malawi, Ms Joyce Banda, and Minister of Health of Republic of South Africa, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi are among the high-level speakers who have confirmed their attendance to the International Conference on AIDS and STIs (ICASA) taking place in Cape Town, South-Africa in December.
President Zuma will deliver the opening address at the conference on December 7. Dr Motsoaledi, will speak on the leadership needed in the fight against HIV and AIDS, while Dr Motsoaledi will speak at the conference’s closing ceremony.
President Banda will address the conference on “HIV and Women: From double to zero while His Excellency Mr Festus Mogae, the former President of Botswana, will speak on “Shared responsibility and global solidarity.” In addition, Dr Christine M. Kaseba-Sata, the First Lady of the Republic of Zambia, will deliver a keynote address at the opening.
The presence of the present and former African Heads of State and ministers is an indication of the importance African governments have attached to the conference. It is being held at a time when these governments are increasingly under pressure to deliver meaningful results in the fight against HIV and AIDS in their countries.
ICASA also comes at a time when gains are being made; UNAIDS this week, for instance, reported a 52 percent reduction in new HIV infections among children and a combined 33 percent reduction among adults and children since 2001. The report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) showed acceleration towards reaching 2015 global targets on HIV.
However, the report also found that progress has been slow in ensuring the respect of human rights, securing access to HIV services for people most at risk of HIV infection, particularly people who use drugs, and in preventing violence against women and girls – a key factor in vulnerability to HIV.
For the fight against HIV, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases to become more effective, therefore, innovative methodologies need to be explored and constructive engagement among those closely involved in the field needs to take place. An examination of the current practices and policies and an understanding of those efforts that are yielding positive results will, undoubtedly, lead to greater success across the continent.
The 17th ICASA, held in Cape Town, South Africa from 7 – 11 December 2013, will provide this unique opportunity for these issues to be discussed. Importantly, it will also provide delegates with the latest information on how to implement best practice in the region, garnered from the nearly one thousand presentations made based on peer-reviewed abstracts submitted to the conference.
The conference is chaired by Professor Robert Soudré, the President of the Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) and co-chaired by Professor Ian Sanne, the CEO of Right Care and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand.

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