Development communication organisation Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) says stakeholders need to engage a right-based approach to prevent the spread of HIV, if progress towards the Getting to Zero target is to be sustained.
Malawi joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Aids Day on Tuesday under the general theme of getting to zero with calls to achieve the sustainable development goal (SDG) of ending Aids by 2030.
In a statement on Tuesday, PSAf said while great progress has been made in promoting HIV prevention in Southern Africa, resulting in significant reduction in the prevalence rates, it is concerned that similar progress does not apply to marginalised groups like young women and adolescent girls.
“Information from various agencies shows that adolescent girls and young women aged between 15 and19 account for 71 percent of new HIV infections among this age group in sub-Saharan Africa.
“This high rate of new infection among adolescent girls and young women is of serious concern as it brings to the fore the inequalities and gender-based violence that hinder HIV prevention,” reads the statement, signed by executive director Lilian Kiefer.
The organisation says this calls for concerted efforts to address inequalities, especially gender, thus a rights-based approach will go a long way in reducing the infringement of the rights of young women and girls which exposes them to new infections.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that since 2000, new HIV infections have fallen by 35 percent and Aids-related deaths by 24 percent while more than 11 million people have been enrolled for anti-retroviral treatment in Africa.
“PSAf is encouraging different stakeholders to guard against complacency and maximise efforts to ensure that Getting to Zero becomes a reality. A starting point would be to ensure that the responses to HIV and Aids are owned and driven by the most affected,” adds the statement.