Are we winning the battle against AIDS in Africa? Thanks to efforts by governments, international donors and civil society, many experts believe we are. According to UNAIDS, in 2012 the number of new HIV infections in Sub Saharan Africa stood at 1.6 million – a reduction of 40 percent from 2001 levels. During the same period, AIDS related deaths dropped by 22 percent.
How do we explain these successes? Three key factors are: antiretroviral drugs, male circumcision and HIV testing and treatment of pregnant women. About 5 million HIV-positive individuals in Sub Saharan Africa now take antiretroviral drugs, which delay the progression of the disease and help reduce its spread. Circumcision reduces the risk of infection, and it is on the rise among African men—more than 1.7 million a year. And 44 percent of pregnant women were tested for HIV in 2012 in Sub Saharan Africa, up from 8 percent in 2005.
Many Aid for Africa member organizations are fighting the disease through education, treatment and care programs. They are raising awareness for those affected by HIV and AIDS. Children of Uganda, which provides educational support to AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, launched its Tour of Light in the U.S. in 2012. Ugandan orphans and others from vulnerable backgrounds performed music, dance and storytelling throughout the U.S. The Tour will return in January 2014.
Ubuntu Education Fund, which supports some 2,000 South African children on the path out of poverty, implements HIV prevention strategies through educational programs, community outreach and testing. In August, Ubuntu hosted the Clinton Foundation and former President Bill Clinton at their center.
Mothers2mothers helps prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV throughout Sub Saharan Africa. In London last month, the organization celebrated reaching one million mothers with a concert featuring singer, songwriter and campaigner Annie Lenox.
In 16 African countries, including Ghana, Malawi and Zambia, the number of people living with AIDS is now below the number of new HIV infections. Other countries, including Cameroon, Nigeria and Togo, lag behind due to lack of political will, inadequate funding and poor healthcare delivery systems.
Aid for Africa is an alliance of 85 U.S.-based nonprofits and their African partners who help children, families, and communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Aid for Africa‘s grassroots programs focus on health, education, economic development, arts & culture, conservation, and wildlife protection in Africa.
Photo Credit: Aid for Africa