'I am an incorrigible optimist. We can end HIV/Aids by 2030'.

Author:Sidibe, Michel
Position::GUEST COLUMN - Column

Since taking office in 2009, Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, has relentlessly pushed his vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero Aids-related deaths and ending the Aids epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. He discusses progress made so far.

The response to HIV/Aids is deeply interwoven with, and dependent upon, progress across the areas covered by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Progress and achievement across a range of the goals will be accelerated, with the ending of the HIV/Aids epidemic.

And I am proud to say that the Aids response in Africa has achieved historic and unprecedented success. Today, more than 11.7m of the 19.4m people living with HIV in Eastern and Southern Africa have access to life-saving treatment, compared to just 4.1m who had access in 2010.

People living with HIV on treatment are living longer, healthier lives. And, as the virus is suppressed among people on treatment, onward transmission of HIV is decreased. Between 2015 and 2016, 2.4 million people were newly added on HIV treatment, a scale-up that just a decade ago would have taken years to achieve. What used to take five or even 10 years to achieve is now taking just months.

Since 2010, the number of new HIV infections among children in Eastern and Southern Africa has reduced by 56%, and Aids-related deaths in all ages, have declined by 42%. The region is also leading the way in reducing new HIV infections--and has recorded a 30% reduction since 2010, with Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe reducing new HIV infections by around 40% in the same period.

As such, life expectancy in Africa is now at its highest level since the peak of the Aids epidemic and is set to rise further as health outcomes continue to improve across the continent.

Today, Africa is taking control of HIV.

Since I launched the 90-90-90 targets in 2014--whereby, by 2020, 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status are accessing treatment and 90% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads--I have witnessed new hope across Africa. In the past three years, the response to HIV has accelerated as the continents leaders have recognised and seized the opportunity to end the Aids epidemic.

Today in Eastern and Southern Africa, 76% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 79% of people who know their HIV-positive status have...

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