Critical Sadc HIV indaba underway in SA

Stakeholders in HIV programming in the  Southern African Development Community (SADC) region are meeting in South Africa to brainstorm on the HIV situation in the region amid indications of shrinking financial support. 

Southern Africa remains the most affected by HIV and Aids with more than 17 million people living with the virus in 2021, which is 44% of the HIV global population. In recent years, Sadc countries have made tremendous progress in the HIV and Aids response; new HIV infections declined by 43% as compared to 2010. 

However, there could be impediments to the progress, making the "Ending Aids by 2030" mantra futile. 

According to the 2022 Global Aids update report, the global community is on the danger of not only reaching the 2030 goals, but also reversing the gains made in the HIV and Aids pandemic response.

The report indicated that key and vulnerable populations such as sex workers, people who use  and inject drugs as well as men who have sex with men were failing to access services due to a number of challenges. 

Key populations, adolescent girls, young women as well as young men accounts for more than 45% of new HIV infections globally, according to the report. 

It is against this background that the Sadc secretariat in collaboration with the UN (UNFPA, UNAids, UNDP and WHO) as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have convened a three-day meeting for stakeholders in HIV programming in the Sadc region. 

The meeting, which is currently being held in Johannesburg, will among other issues assess progress made against global targets and discuss the HIV response agenda in the context of the post Covid-19 recovery. 

Member states will also give update on the state of HIV and Aids epidemic in their respective countries while the issue of shrinking financial resources for HIV and health will be put to the fore. 

Deliberations will also brainstorm on strategies to sustaining HIV response in the Sadc region while proposing actions to revigorate  the HIV prevention strategy in post Covid-19 era. 

The implementation and acceleration of the Sadc framework of action for sustainable financing in HIV and health as well as the Africa Leadership Meeting (Investing in Health) declaration will be discussed. 

Key and vulnerable populations groups, which are critical in HIV programming have confirmed their participation at the indaba with focus being on the change of strategy, particularly on harm reduction. 

Harm reduction is viewed as one critical approach in the response to HIV. 

Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) is of the view that there was need to expand a situational analysis across the country’s ten provinces to get the correct picture on data that will inform TB and HIV programming  for people who use and inject drugs. 

Recently ZCLDN carried out a situational analysis across five provinces with the results set to be released by end of October. 

One of the tenants of harm reduction is evidence-based, hence the need to have a research of such kind.

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