U.N. Secretary-General Ban Cites Improvements, Challenges in Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Opinion Piece
Although there has been an "international movement towards universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support" for HIV/AIDS, "serious challenges remain" in the fight against the disease, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in an opinion piece in Kenya's Business Daily.
According to Ban, the Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa has proven "critical" in improving Africa's response to HIV/AIDS since the organization's inception five years ago, when "the AIDS pandemic was ravaging African countries, decimating its skills base and reversing economic progress." Ban notes that the "global community rose to the occasion" in the face of "daunting and insurmountable" challenges, adding that in "Africa itself, we have seen leaders show political will and courage." Last year, more than two million Africans received antiretroviral drug access, including 470,000 HIV-positive pregnant women to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus, Ban writes. He adds that HIV/AIDS prevalence in some countries is leveling off or decreasing.
However, Ban writes that in several countries, HIV/AIDS prevalence is increasing among young people, as well as women and girls, and that five million HIV-positive Africans still are in need of antiretroviral treatment. In addition, some nations have to allocate more than one-quarter of their budgets to HIV/AIDS treatment, according to Ban.
Consequently, the international community "must act on the understanding that Africa has multiple AIDS epidemics, and one-size-fits-all policies will not work across the region," Ban writes, adding, "It is why we must learn better to grasp how cultural norms and attitudes increase the risk of infection." Ban also writes that the global community must enforce laws that eliminate violence against women and girls and take action to improve the lives of AIDS orphans. Ban concludes, "I pledge my full support and solidarity for the task ahead. And I commend all of you for undertaking this important assignment" (Ban, Business Daily, 6/11).