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Political will can end AIDS in West and Central Africa

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PHOTO: Medscape

Sir: Despite the commendable progress toward ending AIDS globally, the urgent need to quicken the pace of action in West and Central Africa was unmistakable at the time the “2016 United Nations Political Declaration on ending AIDS” by 2030 was agreed in June 2016. Only 28 per cent of people living with HIV received antiretroviral therapy in the region at the end of 2015, compared to the 54 per cent in Eastern and Southern Africa. The ambition to meet the 90-90-90 targets by 2020 whereby 90 per cent of people living with HIV get tested and know their status, 90 per cent of those who know their status put on sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90 per cent of those on sustained antiretroviral therapy to achieve viral suppression, needs to be kept alive.

In close collaboration with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and other key partners, the region has put together a catch-up plan that is helping to fast track the HIV response to meet the ambitious targets by 2020. Africa meeting held in July, the leadership of the HIV response back on track in less than two years. This new plan gives West and Central Africa the opportunity to own the HIV response through stronger leadership at the national and sub-national levels.

The signs that political leaders are fulfilling their promise to redouble efforts to achieve the “2016 United Nations Political Declaration on ending AIDS” by 2030 are now clear.

Nigeria, the biggest country in the region with the second highest HIV/AIDS burden globally has already succeeded in putting more than one million people living with HIV on life-saving treatment. The political leadership has given us the guidance that can ensure that most of the 6.5 million people living with HIV in West and Central Africa get to know their status and receive the life-saving treatment that they need in less than two years active joint actions on the ground, engaging the authorities, communities, private sector, UN and partners, in the 25 countries of the region is critical to sustaining this new momentum.

• Dr. Djibril Diallo is UNAIDS’ director of Regional Support Team for West and Central Africa.



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