World Health Organization (WHO) admitted, on Tuesday, that Africa has made significant progress against HIV/AIDS over the past decade, reducing new infections by 43 per cent and nearly halving AIDS-related deaths.
Nevertheless, it maintained that the continent is still unlikely to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, with many countries falling behind key elimination milestones, while COVID-19 aggravating challenges.
WHO said its recent analysis suggested that, to achieve the 2030 global development goal of ending AIDS, countries must ensure that by 2025, 95 per cent of people living with HIV know their status (target 1), 95 per cent of those who know their status are on treatment (target 2), and 95 per cent of those receiving treatment have their viral load suppressed (target 3).
It recalled that the fast-track strategy to end AIDS was initiated in December 2015 by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and in December 2020, the new 95-95-95 five-year plan replaced the previous targets.
Communications Officer, WHO Regional Office for Africa, Collins Boakye-Agyemang, in a statement, said that WHO is tracking progress toward the 95-95-95 targets with a scorecard which was released few days ago at the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa gathering in Durban, South Africa.
He said: “The scorecard finds that in December 2021, countries in the African region reported that 87 per cent of people living with HIV know their status. Of the figure, 77 per cent are on treatment and 68 per cent have low viral load.
“So far only nine countries, namely, Botswana, Cape Verde, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, are on track to reach the 95-95-95 targets by 2025.”
Meanwhile, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said the scorecard was a wake-up call for African governments to stay focused on ending AIDS.
She said: “COVID-19 has made the fight against HIV all the more challenging, but one virus must not win out over another. We must tackle COVID-19 and HIV in parallel.
“Africa has come so far, and we know how to end AIDS. But unless governments make a fresh push, increasing resources and commitment to strengthening their fragile health systems, we will not reach the last mile.”