COVID-19 offset HIV/AIDS response, lets end inequalities

By Catherine Murombedzi

Covid-19 was so dramatic that it put HIV/AIDS targets off track, said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa while addressing journalists at a press conference at the 22nd ICASA taking place in Harare from the 4th to 9th of December.

She noted that her home country, Botswana, was at one time heavily burdened that people pointed fingers at her when she attended conferences.

“HIV/AIDS has been around for 42 years. The response has seen the HIV prevalence going down. Covid-19 was so dramatic that it put HIV/AIDS target off track.

“My country, Botswana at one time, had the highest HIV prevalence. We have made a difference to that. Billions of dollars have been used. We need a people centered response.

“Communities supported care and support for each other. The community of people living with HIV made treatment a possibility. They mobilised for continued treatment. The investment made in health investment has not been maintained. When decisions are made, people affected by HIV must be there at all levels.

“We need to engage better than we are doing in response to HIV. What they know must be put into strategies. We need to çelebrate the achievements made in the HIV response. For someone who does not live with HIV, it’s work. For someone with HIV it’s their life.

“A group of researchers working on gene therapy in USA talking to young people living with HIV were told, ‘we are ready to take part in the research. It affects us. We are tired of taking pills every day.’
“Innovation remains pivotal to ending AIDS,” said Dr Moeti.

With Southern Africa still recording infections, inequalities must end.

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