West Africa is behind in fight against HIV – Expert

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By Oumie Mendy

An international expert panel discussing the scaling and accelerating of HIV response in Africa has said West and Central Africa are moving slowly compared to other regions in the fight against HIV/Aids.

In a meeting held at a local hotel that brought together delegates from 9 West African countries, experts said new HIV/Aids infections have dropped by 25%.

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According to the experts, 58% of new infections are among women and girls and almost 1 in 3 people living with HIV/Aids in Africa don’t know their status while 58% of PL/HIV have access to ART and only 45% of PL/HIV have an undetected viral load.

The Management of paediatric HIV/Aids, the experts added remains “an area that has barely been explored”.

“The Aids epidemic in Western and Central Africa is an ongoing emergency and the early gains made against it in this region have not been translated into the sustained progress that has been made in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa”, said Winnie Byanyima, executive director – UNAIDS. 

Nguissali Turpin, a representative of ENDA Santé, an international non-profit organisation based in Senegal said the West and Central regions have been even more challenging because of conflicts and terrorism related issues.

“We have a lot of priority areas that need to be addressed in our country and there is a poor political agenda towards solving this issue.

That’s why last year we organised a political summit in Senegal to facilitate awareness of HIV-related issues in our countries and to identify the key elements to the responses,” she said.

Also speaking at the event, Ahmed Jeagan Loum of NASO, said the program provides support in relation to the different components of HIV response.

“Currently, we have over 8500 people in the Gambia receiving HIV treatment. The government since the first diagnosis in 1986 has come up with policies in terms of HIV response and through these policies, we are coordinating with partners,” he added.

A representative of the Luxembourg government, Tania Martin assured the stakeholders that her country is committed to continue providing the funds for the fight against HIV.