For us and with us at ICASA

Our linking organisations and partners will be using their presence at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa next week to demand support for a sustained community response to HIV, health and human rights to bring an end to AIDS in the region.

Around 10,000 of the world’s leading scientists, policymakers, activists, government leaders and civil society will meet in Cape Town, South Africa for the 17th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) from 7-11 December 2013.

The conference theme is ‘Now More Than Ever: Targeting Zero’. According to conference co-chair Professor Robert Soudre, President of the Society for AIDS in Africa: “Cape Town will offer a unique platform to Africa to take stock of the past achievements and challenges and to scale up the African response in the context of the Millenium Development Goals [which end in 2015]”.

According to UNAIDS, there are 25 million people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. The trend is going in the right direction – in 2011 there were 33% less deaths from AIDS related causes than in 2005. However, we know that HIV disproportionately affects sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people and people who inject drugs. In 2012, 60% of national governments globally reported the existence of laws and policies that present obstacles to effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services for key populations.

The Alliance has been championing community-led programming and South-to-South cooperation to prevent and treat HIV in Africa for 20 years. Last year we reached 2.7 million people through our work.

Shaun Mellors, Associate Director for Africa said: “Ensuring key populations and those most affected by gender-based violence can access the life-saving treatment and services they need is the focus of our programming in Africa. Our activities at ICASA aim to tackle the restrictive policies and other structural barriers that prevent this from happening.”

“ICASA offers a fantastic opportunity for us to work with our Linking Organisations, our regional partners and broader civil society to further efforts to strengthen civil society leadership, build programmatic capacity and advocate for change in order to bring an end to AIDS” said Mellors.

The Alliance is involved with a number of events and activities during the conference. You can download the full list here, together with another list of Link Up project activities, which aim to promote the integration of sexual and reproductive health and HIV services and a list of SHARP project activities, which aim to promote men's sexual health and rights in Africa.

Specifically we are co-organising a roundtable event with the African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA), African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), the Kenyan Network of People who Use Drugs (KenPUD) and HIVOS. The event, For Us and With Us, takes place on Sunday 8th December and aims to share experiences on how to ‘meaningfully engage’ with key populations in the New Funding Model. The event is sponsored by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and will be followed by a reception hosted by the Alliance.