At A Time Like This!

There is no relenting in efforts to tackle the HIV/AIDS scourge that remains a growing threat to humanity.

 

The African Synergy Against AIDS and Suffering will tomorrow September 27, 2016, in Douala, launch a new AIDS campaign, “Mon pari pour 2030” or “My stake for 2030.” The campaign, which targets a much wider audience - commercial motorbike riders, business executives and leaders of women’s associations - is a clear departure from “AIDS-free Holidays,” which focuses on young people.

By this move, First Lady, Mrs. Chantal Biya, the founder of African Synergy Against AIDS and Suffering and UNAIDS Special Ambassador, has taken the cue from the June 2016 United Nations declaration on stepping up the fight against HIV. This is in order to put an end to the scourge by 2030. HIV/AIDS, it must be said, is no longer the concern of medical staff as it was viewed in the early days of the “outbreak” of the disease in Cameroon. Today, the disease is not only a major medical concern, but also a social, economic and cross-cutting problem that impacts almost all aspects of life.

Simply put, AIDS is everybody’s concern today. For in some way, we are all affected by its impact – either directly or indirectly. According to 2013 figures from United Nations AIDS, UNAIDS, some 35 million people are infected in the world, with three quarters in Sub-Saharan Africa. The prevalence rate in Cameroon stands at 4.3 per cent or 860,000 people. The East Region has a prevalence rate of 6.3 per cent, one of the highest in the country, with the three northern regions of Adamawa, North and Far North, being the least affected.

At the global level, 430,000 children aged less than 15 are HIV-positive. In Cameroon, the figure stands at 45,000 children, with 50 per cent of them dying before their second birthdays. Statistics show that only 38 per cent of the country’s 45,000 infected children are on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment. Given these grim but not hopeless statistics, there is no better time than now to step up efforts in stemming the spread of the HIV virus.

The new health policy of testing and placing positive people immediately on anti-retroviral treatment and bringing treatment centres closer to the people, is laudable. But this is only at the level of those already infected. At a critical time like this, there is no gainsaying that the prevention of HIV infection is much better than struggling to treat it after; given that it has no real cure for now.     

 

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