Abidjan – Activists of Angry Aids call on West and Central Africa to intensify the fight against HIV, saying that millions of people, especially children, are at risk of complacency and lack of funds.
A six-day conference in Africa has shed a clear light on the problems in a region whose two dozen nations extend from Mauritania in the north to Gabon in the south, and include some of the poorest countries in the world.
Coalition Plus, an alliance of AIDS groups, said that AIDS-related deaths in West and Central Africa are running at 5.1%, more than double the 2.1% in the rest of the continent.
The region represents only six percent of the world's population, but has at least 16% of the world's population. total of the world's adults, classified as people over 15 years of age, living with HIV.
The proportion increases even more dramatically, up to 25%, in the category of children infected from birth to 14 years.
Although the HIV pandemic is more than four decades old In fact, 80% of the 540 000 children infected in West and Central Africa do not receive life-saving antiretroviral therapy, the United Nations Children's Agency said on Tuesday. Unicef and the program against AIDS.
"HIV and AIDS are a direct threat to the lives of 820,000 children and adolescents," they said in a report issued at the ICASA conference that ends on Saturday. "However, we know what works."
In 2016, an estimated 60,000 children contracted HIV in western and central Africa, he said.
Among adolescents aged 15 to 19, AIDS-related deaths are on the rise. Among the group of 10 to 19 years, 16,000 people died last year, an increase of 35% compared to 2010.
"The increase in juvenile mortality is a scandal", Marie-Pierre Poirier, director of Unicef For western and central Africa, he told AFP
"Most of these adolescents are unaware of their serological status," he said
"All are responsible." The support of international donors is insufficient for the needs of the region. And governments must prioritize the fight against AIDS, even if they have limited resources, "he said.
The situation is not entirely bleak: the region cut HIV transmission from mother to child by a third from 2010 and 2016, and it is not the same everywhere. 19659002]
Adult HIV prevalence ranges from less than 0.4% in Niger to 6.2% in Equatorial Guinea, according to figures Almost half of all children infected in the region are in Nigeria.
But the main problems are common, experts say.
One is the lack of so-called HIV testing at the point of care, so that a patient can be diagnosed and treated immediately, an important step in prevention.
Another is the availability of antiretroviral drugs, which suppress the virus but do not eliminate it.
The cost of AIDS therapy has plummeted since the first regimen of three therapies began operating in 1996, and access to the lifeline, taken in a simple pill once a day, is spreading through parts of Africa.
However, in West and Central Africa, 1.3 million people who know they have HIV are still waiting for treatment.
Stigma and discrimination, as well as homophobia, are factors that help the virus to spread underground.
"We have to change gear, to the" emergency response ", we have to mobilize the whole society: government, civil society, families," said Poirier.