As we join the global community in commemorating World AIDS Day, we reflect on the pandemic’s devastating impact on millions of people all over the world, and most especially on our children and youth. For many, the effects of HIV&AIDS are exacerbated by a host of other negative factors – not least of which are poor socio-economic conditions – all impacting on positive health and education outcomes.
Although significant progress has been made in the fight against HIV since 1988 when World AIDS Day was first commemorated, much is still to be done. For the period 2011-2015, the World AIDS Campaign identified ‘Getting to Zero: Zero new infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths’ as the global theme for World AIDS Day, a theme that accords with the UNAIDS strategy 2011-2015 ‘Getting to Zero’. In striving towards reaching this goal, we look towards both strengthening the protective factors and reducing the risk factors that make children and youth vulnerable.
This means continuing to work – collectively with our government, civil society and donor partners – to execute comprehensive, systemic and integrated strategies that tackle the drivers of the infection and importantly, enable early identification and access to effective treatment. This includes working with school community role-players, and empowering children and youth – especially young girls – with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to believe in themselves, respect others, make healthy lifestyle choices, stay in school, take charge of their own lives and reduce their risk of contracting HIV.
MIET Africa pledges to continue its work – in 2015 and beyond – towards the achievement of an HIV-free generation.