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The African Union Commission joins the world to commemorate World AIDS Day on 1st December each year and re-ignite the political commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat in Africa by 2030. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first-ever international day for global health. It remains significant for the HIV response as communities unite globally to show solidarity to people living with HIV and deceased from HIV. The theme for the 2022 World AIDS Day is “Equalize”. Today, HIV prevalence is not because of a lack of knowledge or tools but because of structural inequalities that obstruct proven solutions to HIV prevention and treatment. “Equalize” is a call to action: a prompt to address the inequalities that impede the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In Africa, the AIDS epidemic is a multi-faceted phenomenon. The factors that fuel inequalities in Africa are as diverse as African communities themselves. Education, gender inequality, and income per capita have, however, been found to be the core fault lines of inequality upon which gaps in HIV response are premised in Africa. These three, along with other emerging public health priorities such as disease outbreaks and the COVID-19 pandemic, call for diverse approaches to “Equalize” at each level of response–from the local up to the international–in a way that fosters a supportive, enabling environment to respond to HIV/AIDS. Africa has made significant progress against HIV over the past decade as HIV service providers take on innovative – and often courageous – strategies to address challenges such as stigma and discrimination.
In this context, the AU Commission – in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, Africa CDC, the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), and UNAIDS – will commemorate World AIDS Day in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The AU Commission will also take the opportunity for continued advocacy for the AU Agenda for Nutrition to ensure that gains made over the years in eliminating malnutrition and all its forms in Africa are upheld. AIDS Watch Africa (AWA), whose Secretariat is housed at the AU Commission, continues to play an influential advocacy role in actively shaping discourse on HIV, TB, malaria and health financing and will thus lead the World AIDS Day initiative.