Star for Life is currently participating in Africa’s largest AIDS conference ICASA. Nearly 10,000 people have gathered in Kigali with the common goal of continuing to find solutions to reduce the transmission of HIV, but also to strengthen the partnership between governments and development partners.
The ICASA conference is an opportunity for researchers from all over the world to share the latest scientific advances in the field of HIV, learn from each other’s expertise, develop strategies to strengthen prevention globally and reduce the transmission of HIV.On site in Kigali, Rwanda, is Star for Life’s secretary general Anki Elken and Viveca Urwitz, senior international public health specialist and member of the Star for Life board.
– We are here to keep up to date on the latest findings on HIV prevention and how people work in different countries in Africa. An excellent opportunity to meet others in this field from South Africa, Namibia and also Tanzania, where we will start work in the near future. Another important area is how sexual and reproductive health, rights and HIV prevention are integrated, says Anki Elken.
Many of the major international donors are represented, for instance UNAIDS, UNFPA, WHO, Global Fund and also government agencies focusing on poverty and development.
– It is really informative to meet people living with HIV, researchers, activists, governments and others and to discuss how we best can fight AIDS, she says.
One of the things we have realised is the importance of continuing to develop the work done by Star for Life’s mobile health clinics. For example, it may be possible to offer self-testing for HIV.
– We also need to strengthen our work on sexualized violence (GBV) within the program. We have understood that we are right on track for how this sort of work should be conducted with young people. Our long-term presence seems to be unique and arouses interest among the participants we speak to, explains Anki Elken.
6200 young women and girls are infected with HIV every week. The vast majority are in Africa. This makes it particularly important that preventive work for women’s and girls’ health and rights is clearly prioritised.
Rosemary Museminali, Director External and donor relations UNAIDS.
– In southern Africa, HIV is a real problem and the rate of new infection among young people is high. Young people living in challenging circumstances can educate themselves and protect their health. We want to contribute to that. This is an area that HIV prevention has failed to reach, says Anki Elken.
The days in Kigali have provided many opportunities to make new contacts that will be valuable for Star for Life’s work going forward.
– We have established good contacts with UNAIDS who have already shown an interest in collaboration. We had a fruitful meeting with Rosemary Museminali and her team. Our active and committed support from the business community aroused a great deal of interest. We have also met potential partners offering further training in southern Africa and met researchers who are working in the countries where we operate, concludes Anki Elken.