World Aids Day: Unite to sustain progress to getting to zero
PANOS Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) is urging stakeholders to adopt a rights based approach to HIV prevention as a way of sustaining progress towards the Getting to Zero target.
PSAF said while great progress had been made in promoting HIV prevention in Southern Africa, resulting in significant reduction in prevalence rates, it was concerned that the same progress was not being seen among marginalised groups like young women and adolescent girls.
Today is World Aids day.
“Information from various agencies shows that adolescent girls and young women aged between 15 and19 years old account for 71 percent of new HIV infections among this age group in sub-Saharan Africa. This high rate of new infection among adolescent girls and young women is of serious concern to us as PSAf, as it brings to the fore the inequalities and gender based violence that hinder HIV prevention,” said PSAF Executive Director Lilian Kiefer.
“This calls for concerted efforts to address inequalities especially gender. PSAf is therefore of the view that a rights based approach will go a long way in reducing the infringement of the rights of young women and girls, which expose them to new infections,” she said.
On World Aids Day, PSAf says it encourages different stakeholders to identify and work towards addressing the various societal root causes of vulnerability to HIV and AIDS to ensure that relevant strategies are identified in addressing HIV/AIDS from a human rights perspective.
On its part, PSAf is currently working with the media and civil society organisations to raise awareness and strengthen understanding on the need for a rights based approach to HIV prevention. Without paying attention to the right to health, a lot of positive efforts ofstakeholders will be undermined thereby slowing progress to Getting to Zero.
In the last few years, PSAf has implemented interventions aimed at raising awareness of and fostering for the sexual and reproductive health rights of key populations and other marginalised groups. These interventions have contributed to the generation of ground breaking information to promote HIV prevention among high risk groups. Among other interventions PSAf provided media fellowships to more than 100 journalists in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa to produce ground breaking content on HIV and AIDS. This content has greatly contributed to informing policy and promoting dialogue and HIV and AIDS, and other emerging issues.
“PSAf is encouraging different stakeholders to guard against complacency and maximize efforts to ensure that Getting to Zero becomes a reality. A starting point would be to ensure that the responses to HIV and AIDS are owned and driven by the most affected. We encourage Southern African countries to put in place measures address the rampant human rights violations against key populations, to ensure that these most at risk populations are not treated as second class citizens, but enjoy their entitlement to all fundamental rights,” said Kiefer
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