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High-risk demographics hold key to HIV prevention

High-risk demographics hold key to HIV prevention

The First Lady, Madame Monica Geingos (middle) spoke at a summit in Swakopmund earlier this month tageting adolescent girls as conduits in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The summit was arranged by Wilton Park, an executive agency of the British Government.

Joining the First Lady for a series of presentations were, from the left, the British High Commissioner, HE Ms Jo Lomas, the Ambassador for Elimination 8 (E8) Dr Richard Kamwi, the Director of the Global Health Group, Sir Richard Feachem and the Director of Programmes at Wilton Park, Dr Robin Hart.

The overarching theme of the three-day summit was ‘Building a stronger HIV prevention response in Sub-Saharan Africa’.

First Lady Geingos and Hon Dr Bernard Haufiku, the Minister of Health and Social Services, were joined by HIV experts from across the region, including top government officials, leading clinicians and researchers, civil society advocates and programme implementers.

Monica Geingos,  a UNAIDS Special Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls,  spoke passionately about the need to find the places and language to engage those most at risk of HIV infection. She also elaborated on the ‘BE FREE’ campaign in Namibia, and the success of developing smart partnerships for greater impact.

Participants discussed what HIV prevention efforts work best, and how these can be expanded and funded across Sub-Saharan Africa to best meet the needs of diverse groups at high risk.

The speakers identified opportunities to boost prevention by overcoming existing barriers. Prevention is generally seen as the top priority while the speakers agreed that treatment must be scaled up.

Dr Kamwi co-chaired the meeting with Sir Richard Feachem, Director of the Global Health Group at the University of California San Francisco. Sir Richard is the founding Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Daughtie Ogutu, Executive Director of the African Sex Workers Alliance, said: “I hope this meeting provides a much-needed regional forum to learn and share how health systems and organisations are using novel approaches to successfully bring HIV prevention to those who suffer the highest disease burden due to structural barriers including stigma, discrimination and criminalization, through meaningful participation and engagement. We will never end HIV without dramatically escalating efforts to preventing HIV among key populations”.

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