Fast track to end aids in Africa

Science and medicine exist to end the Aids epidemic in Africa, says Michel Sidibé, UNAids executive director


There were 25.8 million people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2104, accounting for almost 70 per cent of the worldwide total. It’s a shocking number, but we now have reason to believe we can end the Aids epidemic in Africa by 2030.

In 2000, just ten thousand people living with HIV in Africa had access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy and the continent was experiencing one of the worst epidemics in living memory. HIV was devastating lives, families, communities and economies, but the world united in its response and, 15 years later, the picture is very different.

Africa is on the brink of ending the Aids epidemic – if we accelerate the response

Today, more than ten million people in Africa have access to treatment. Aids-related deaths have fallen by 48 per cent since their peak in 2004 and new HIV infections have declined by 41 per cent since 2000. Africa is on the brink of ending the Aids epidemic – if we accelerate the response.

UNAids has designed a fast-track approach to end the Aids epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. It involves front-loading investments to reach an ambitious 90-90-90 treatment target by 2020. Reaching this target would see 90 per cent of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 90 per cent of people who know their HIV-positive status accessing treatment and 90 per cent of people on treatment having suppressed viral loads. The fast-track approach will also reduce new HIV infections by 75 per cent and realise our vision of zero discrimination.

The fast-track approach, combined with a social justice agenda that puts people first and ensures their sexual and reproductive health and rights are fully met, will be unstoppable. We have just five short years to break the epidemic for good. Otherwise it could rebound to levels seen ten years ago. That’s unthinkable. We have to succeed.