UN envoy on AIDS says more needs to be done in Africa

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lusaka - The United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa, Elizabeth Mataka, says more needs to be done to ensure that women and girls across sub-Saharan Africa can access comprehensive HIV prevention, care and support services.

This is because only 44 percent of the people living with HIV in Africa are able to access anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment, and less than half of the HIV positive pregnant women in Africa are receiving medicines to prevent their children from becoming HIV infected as well.

She said this as the nations from across the globe commemerate World AIDS Day.

Mataka said in order to ensure that women and girls had comprehensive HIV prevention care and support services there was also a need for men to effectively involve themselves in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

She said gender equality and the fight against HIV was an important tool in providing strategic and normative guidance on translating national commitments around gender and HIV into budgeted programmes.

This would be multi-beneficial in effectively attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four, five and six, she added.

Mataka also called for long-term sustainable programmes which would address why women and girls were more vulnerable to infection.

Globally, only 38 per cent of females aged 15 to 24 could demonstrate accurate and sufficient knowledge on ways to protect themselves from acquiring HIV against a targeted 95 per cent by 2010.