Former African leaders unite to create AIDS-free generation in Africa
“The Champions are determined to keep HIV high on the continental agenda,” Chairperson of the Champions Festus Mogae said. “We will leave no one behind, and we will not rest until Africa has reached the goal of an AIDS-free generation.”
The main step toward achieving the goal is to guarantee that all children born and living in Africa are born free of HIV. The leaders must also make HIV treatments more accessible to children who already have HIV.
“An AIDS-free generation is within our grasp if we use the scientific knowledge, data and tools at our disposal,” Ambassador Deborah Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator, said. “I am inspired today by this committed group of leaders, who are using their wisdom and influence to move towards an AIDS-free generation in Africa.”
Young people in Africa are deeply impacted by the HIV and AIDS epidemic in their respective countries. This is why the Champions are renewing their efforts to reach out to youth and adolescents as they work toward their goal.
“The Champions have been steadfast in calling for improved HIV prevention and treatment options, and there has been progress,” Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director, said. “Now, with their ranks strengthened, the Champions will be even stronger advocates to fast-track the AIDS response in Africa to ensure that every baby is born free from HIV and that their mothers stay healthy.”
The Champions were first established as a group in 2008. Since November 2014, five leaders have joined the Champions, including Alpha Oumar Konare, former president of Mali; Joyce Banda, former president of Malawi; Kgalema Motlanthe, former president of South Africa; Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria; and Hifikepunye Pohamba, former president of Namibia.
“Today, we come together as a strengthened group of Champions to reaffirm our commitment to ending mother-to-child transmission of HIV and to ensuring that mothers and children already living with HIV stay healthy,” Banda said. “I am proud to be involved in the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation."
They have scheduled a three-day meeting to discuss their goals with high-level leaders, including Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy president of South Africa, and private sector leaders.