ICASA 2017 – Africa: Ending AIDS- delivering differently

We were excited to participate in the 19th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), held between 4-9 December in Abidjan Cote d’ Ivoire. The conference brought together 7 000 of the world’s leading scientists, policymakers, activists, PLHIV, civil society representatives and government leaders to discuss how Africa could do things differently to end AIDS by 2030.

SWHAP was honoured to present posters on:

  1. The SWHAP Model: Joint consultation and collaboration for workplace policies by employer and worker representatives in East, Central and Southern Africa
  2. Introducing non-discrimination policies and programmes as an extension of highway corridor testing amongst truck drivers: a union employer partnership
  3. Why engaging men, women and gender transformative norms matters
  4. Relating HIV and AIDS knowledge levels to attitudes, behaviour and practice parameters at the workplace as indicators of impact of workplace HIV and AIDS programme interventions
  5. People living with HIV access to support, treatment and care: focus on SWHAP

The posters highlighted amongst other issues; the possibilities that exist for scaling-up programmes within sectors through partnerships between union and employer organisations; social dialogue as a tool for programme implementation; the need to engage men in workplaces and communities to tackle harmful gender norms that increase HIV transmission risk; and the importance of raising awareness on HIV as it reduces stigma and discrimination and increases rate of testing and uptake of prevention services.

SWHAP also conducted a radio interview with the Children’s Radio Foundation at the Community Village, discussing the private sector contribution to the HIV response and how workplace programmes help to deal with stigma and discrimination.

Some themes from the conference

Universal Healthcare Coverage –  New data is showing that at least half of the world’s population does not have access to essential health services. Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) means that everyone can have access to affordable quality healthcare. UHC is at the core of the HIV response and important for ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. Read more from GBC Health about how the private sector can play a part in scaling-up access to UHC.

Differentiated Care – The 90-90-90 Targets will require a near doubling of the number of people on treatment putting pressure on health facilities. Differentiated care aims to simplify and adapt HIV services to reflect the needs of the various groups of people living with HIV enabling them to access treatment closer to the community (where possible) – relieving pressure on health facilities. It involves tailoring the frequency and location of services as well as the type of health worker providing the services. Read more from Differentiated Care.

Male Engagement to end AIDS – “Men and boys are underrepresented in HIV services while being over-represented amongst AIDS deaths and a key part of the cycle of new HIV infections, a cycle which needs to urgently be broken to reduce new infections among adolescent girls and young women.” – Sonke Gender Justice and Men Engage Africa.

Some examples of how to engage men that were shared during the conference:

  • Through prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programmes
  • Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMCC) using community-based approaches to increase uptake
  • Increasing access to HIV self-testing
  • Workplace testing
  • Facility-based changes, for example, routine testing after hours, weekend testing and  increasing the number of male nurses or male healthcare providers
  • Venue-based outreach, for example at, sporting events and bars
  • Use of mass media and community mobilisation to transform gender norms, address risk perception and increase demand for testing and prevention services
  • Use of influencers to change community norms on masculinity

Read more from the UNAIDS report Blind Spot – Reaching out to men and boys

Leave no one behind – In 2016, 610 000 young people were newly infected with HIV, and in the last decade AIDS-related deaths among adolescents have increased (decreases have been observed in all other age groups). We need policy changes to help young people especially those from key populations to access sexual reproductive health information and services.

A session by GBC Health,  the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the African Youth Network (AfriYAN) provided a platform for governments, technical and financial partners, the private sector, civil society organizations, and young people to discuss investment opportunities for ending AIDS.

“We will not end AIDS without young people”- Michel Sidibé UNAIDS Executive Director

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