SA AIDS Conference
AIDS Leadership awards
“South Africa now has the largest ARV programme in the world, with excellent results in its prevention of mother to child programme, and the first improvement in overall life expectancy in two decades. Coverage is steadily improving, with access to excellent first line drugs and solid monitoring. The national treasury has funded the programme appropriately.
This rosy picture bears no resemblance to the situation five short years ago, where a denialist president, with the collusion of our health minister and a large number of the cabinet, delayed and stymied the HIV response within the country, conservatively causing the deaths of 400 000 people for lack of access to antiretrovirals. It took the action of a large number of brave organisations and individuals, within civil society and the state, to oppose the unjustness of the Mbeki era, as well as significant leadership afterwards to attend to the damage. People watched as their family, friends and colleagues got ill and died, and galvanised civil society in a way not seen since apartheid.
This award acknowledges the people who have showed incredible bravery during our AIDS response – activists, community members, health workers, politicians, journalists, researchers – and who have made our HIV programme something that South Africa can finally take pride in.”
Remembering a Lost Decade: An Oral History of the South African HIV/AIDS Epidemic
AIDS denailism at senior government level is estimated to have resulted in the untimely death of 340 000 South Africans during the period referred to as “the lost decade” by the current Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Memories of the lost decade are vivid in people who lived and worked in close proximity with the devastation caused by this pandemic and in those who fought to change this reality. This project aims to generate oral testimonies of the first decade of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. The lessons learned from fighting this in epidemic deserves to be remembered and the key individuals who contributed to ensuring that South Africa now has the largest AIDS treatment programme in the world needs to be acknowledged. The Oral History Project acknowledges that that such lessons are best conveyed by human experience, in human voices by those who witnessed and experienced the events of this lost decade.
This project is documenting through the use of multimedia sources the stories and experiences of health professionals, advocates and people living with HIV and AIDS. The project is also building up a repository of these stories for the purposes of creating a historical archive of the struggle against HIV/AIDS, which will be accessible to the public and to future generations.
ICASA 2013 BACKGROUND
The International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) is the major international AIDS conference taking place in Africa. Its current biennial hosting alternates between Anglophone and Francophone African countries. South Africa has been selected to host the17th ICASA which is scheduled to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from 7 – 11 December 2013.
The conference theme “Now More Than Ever: Targeting Zero” is derived from the UNAIDS’ vision of striving for “Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths”, but it also highlights the need to “now more than ever” maintain the commitment to ensure access to treatment for everyone in Africa irrespective of their ability to pay for such treatment. The hosting of this conference in South Africa is highly symbolic as it was in South Africa during the XIIIth International AIDS in 2000 that a turning point was reached in breaking the silence around AIDS in Africa, which resulted in an unprecedented commitment by donors, government and civil society to increase access to treatment in an attempt to turn the tide of this epidemic.
The 2013 ICASA Conference is an opportunity to renew this global commitment by drawing the
world’s attention to the fact that the legacy of Durban 2000 is now under threat as a result of the global economic downturn. ICASA 2013 is an opportunity for the international community, and all Africans, to join efforts in committing to achieving an AIDS-free Africa. Given the urgency of the issue we are anticipating that 10 000 of the world’s leading scientists, policy makers, activists, PLHIV, government leaders – as well as a number of heads of state and civil society representatives – will be joining the debate on how to achieve this vision.
The conference will be co-chaired by Professor Robert Soudre, the President of the Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) and Professor Ian Sanne, the CEO of Right Care and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand. The conference will be an excellent opportunity to promote inter-sectoral achievements in the AIDS response and to strengthen the partnership among governments, civil society, and development partners.
The objectives of ICASA 2013 are to:
- Serve as an advocacy platform to mobilise African leaders, partners and the community to increase ownership, commitment and support to the AIDS response;
- Provide a forum for exchange of knowledge, skills and best practices in Africa and from around
- Mobilise support to scale up evidence-based responses to HIV/AIDS/STIs/TB and Malaria in
order to achieve the MDGs;
- Act as platform to hold accountable all stakeholders in government and civil society including:
national leaders, the scientific community, the private sector and partners to scale up and
sustain the AIDS response; and
- Create opportunities to define priorities and set policy and programme agendas to enhance
mobilisation and effective utilisation of resources.