Dec. 8, 2017

Dr Ihab Ahmed Addelrahman address following his award .

On the occasion of receiving the UNAIDS Award for Leadership in recognition of the outstanding and remarkable contributions he has made to the global response to HIV, the former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that “Today we see tremendous progress, but the fight is not over, we must continue the struggle and wake up each morning ready to fight and fight again, until we win.”

As the international community and all Africans join hands in re-committing our efforts to achieving an AIDS-free Africa, the words of Mr. Kofi Annan, combined with our theme for the 19th ICASA of “Africa: Ending AIDS-delivering differently” bring to the fore our determination to continue our fight against disease on our continent.  This year’s conference comes in the backdrop of the 2016, United Nations (UN) Member States commitment to reducing the number of new adult HIV infections to fewer than 500 000 by 2020, a 75% reduction compared to 2010. Reducing the number of new HIV infections is also an indicator (3.3.1) in the Sustainable Development Goals, among which is the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030

Despite the availability of a widening array of effective HIV prevention tools and methods and a massive scale-up of HIV treatment in recent years, the number of new HIV infections among adults globally has not decreased sufficiently. There were more than 1.6 million new infections in adults (15+ years) in 2016, while the estimated numbers of new infections among key populations such as sex workers, gay, men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs remained either steady or increased. It is estimated that more than 300 000 adolescent girls and young women were newly infected with HIV in 2016, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. These statistics require that collectively, we need to redouble our efforts as well as become innovative if we are to protect the gains achieved to date.

As a continent and indeed globally, we need to integrate how we have leveraged on each other’s successes through sharing of experiences at different platforms such as that provided by ICASA 2017 and translating the valuable scientific, leadership and community interactions into concrete programmatic actions.

The 19th ICASA to be hosted by Cote d’Ivoire once again provides us a platform to promote innovative partnerships to increase domestic investments to achieving the 90/90/90 targets; integrate approaches for sustainable responses towards ending AIDS, TB, Hepatitis and associated diseases as well as translating science into action to maximize programme impact.

I wish to extend my warm welcome to all delegates to the 19th edition of ICASA, which has been successfully organized by the Society for AIDS in Africa in partnership with the Government of Cote d’Ivoire represented by the able leadership of the Minister of Health & Public Hygiene.

Dr. Ihab Ahmed
ICASA 2017 President
SAA President

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