By Elias Hakizimana.
Rwanda is organizing the international conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA 2019) that will focus on innovation, community and political leadership to make Africa AIDS free.
The conference is being organized by Rwanda Ministry of Health and the society for AIDS Africa (SAA) to be hosted by the Government of Rwanda in December2019 in Kigali Convention Center and will bring together over 10,000 participants from worldwide including academia, teachers and researchers to share ideas and experience with Rwanda on how to end HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The ICASA 2019 steering committee has been in Kigali Serena Hotel between 7-8 June 2018 to decide the theme and the objectives for the 20th edition of the conference as well as its relevant logo.
The selected logo comes from Togo participant among the 46 shortlisted logos and the winner Apevinyekou Komlanvi used the Agaseke basket as a symbol of peace and harvest in Rwanda to reflect on the host country’s values, the sustainable development Goals, the 90-90-90 goal and the end of AIDS by 2030; and these are among the criteria for Rwanda to be chosen to host the conference.
The 90-90-90 is in line with mitigating the fatal effects of the epidemic, where African countries set targets to have 90% of people living with HIV know their status, 90% of people know their HIV-positive status have access to antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of people who are on treatment have undetectable levels of HIV.
The steering committee for ICASA 2019 said that they have decided on the conference’s schedule, resources mobilization and proposed topics to be discussed during the forthcoming conference in December 2019.
The conference will be held under the theme “AIDS FREE AFRICA-Innovation, Community and Political Leadership”. It will highlight five main objectives which are; promoting community, scientific, and technological innovations for ending AIDS, advocating for financial sustainable national health responses, political leadership and accountability.
Dr Sabin Nzanzimana, the head of Division of HIV and other Infections Diseases at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) said that Rwanda will gain a lot from this conference in terms of research and HIV/AIDS treatment.
“Our country will gather together students, teachers and reseachers to share ideas and experience with people from worldwide. Also economically our traders will benefit from the conference as they will be selling services to the participants. It will be also pleasure for our HIV department to meet with such a big number of experts and we believe we will learn a lot from them,” said Nsanzimana.
He said that the conference will give Rwanda the occasion to reflect on the past and see the achievements and challenges in fighting against HIV/AIDS.
Rwanda reduced HIV prevalence at 80 percent and new infection at 50 percent between 2014-2016 according to Nsanzimana. Life expectancy for HIV/AIDS Positive people also increased to over 25 years.
He also noted that Rwanda has successfully coordinated programmes in HIV services where 98% of the health centers today give HIV treatment and care.
Luc Armand Bodea, Society for AIDS Africa (SAA) Coordinator and ICASA Director said that SAA team has met President Paul Kagame and the Health Minister before to find out more about Rwanda’s capacity to host ICASA and the outcomes were good.
Prof. John Idoko, the President of Society for AIDS in Africa said that ICASA conference aims at having AIDS free Africa where the disease will no longer be a threat to lives of Africans.
Idoko mentioned that the remaining key challenge is the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the key populations.
“We are at the forefront of ending this epidemic, chronic and long-lasting devastating lives of people. Over the last two decades we have seen people preventing themselves against this epidemic but we still see challenges like high prevalence among the key populations” said Idoko.
He highlighted that “80% of most of African countries population are youth and hence called for the total education on AIDS saying that “people who have done secondary education are less likely to have new infections than those with only primary education.”
Idoko added that many people in Africa don’t know their status, saying that “If people were tested and knew their status, the number of new HIV/AIDS infections would drastically be reduced in Africa.”
ICASA has been organized since 1990 to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS through an African continent free of HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Elias Hakizimana @theinspirerpubl