Health

Sierra Leone: The Path to Ending AIDS


In a new report released on Thursday, UNAIDS, the agency dedicated to ending the epidemic said there is a clear path to ends AIDS and the path will help tackle future pandemics and advance progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The report, titled ‘The Path that Ends AIDS’, contains data and case studies that says ending AIDS requires a strong ‘political and financial choice.’

HIV and AIDS remains a major public health challenge globally, having killed about 40.4 million people while over 30 million continue to live with the virus worldwide, according to 2022 WHO data.

Leaders have the opportunity to save millions of lives and be “remembered by future generations” as those who put a stop to the world’s deadliest pandemic. They could save millions of lives and protect the health of everyone. They could show what leadership can do, says UNAID Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima.

According to WHO, African Region remains most severely affected, accounting for more than two-thirds of the people living with HIV worldwide. The region’s women and girls suffer, especially in sub-Saharan Africa suffer severely with around 4,000 of them becoming infected with HIV each week in 2022.

No cure is available for HIV infection. But access to effective HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care could manage the health condition and people with the virus could live long.

But UNAID reports says countries and leaders who are already following the path that ends AIDS are achieving extraordinary results.

For example, countries like Botswana, Eswatini, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe have already achieved what is known as the “95-95-95” targets. That means, 95 per cent of the people who are living with HIV know their status, 95 percent of those who know that they are living with HIV are on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment, and 95 percent of people in treatment are virally suppressed.

There is an opportunity now to end AIDS by increasing political will by investing in a sustainable response to HIV through financing what matters most: evidence-based HIV prevention and treatment, health systems integration, non- discriminatory laws, gender equality, and empowered community networks, the UNAIDS says

According to the report, progress has been strongest in the countries and regions that have the most financial investments, such as in eastern and southern Africa where new HIV infections have been reduced by 57% since 2010, the UN agency reports.