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17th ICASA International Conference on AIDS and STI's in Africa (ICASA 2013)

Current and former African Heads of State to attend ICASA in December, an indication of the importance attached to the conference

ICASA conference to address issues critical to achieving goals for the reduction of HIV and AIDS in Africa against backdrop of growing challenges

November 5, 2013 - PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - His Excellency Mr Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, Her Excellency Ms Joyce Banda, the President of Malawi and The Honourable Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health of the Republic of South Africa, are among the high-level speakers who have confirmed their attendance to the International Conference on AIDS and STI's in Africa (ICASA) taking place in Cape Town in December.

President Zuma will deliver the opening address at the conference on December 7. Dr Motsoaledi, will speak on the leadership needed in the fight against HIV and AIDS on the continent. Dr Motsoaledi will speak at the conference's closing ceremony.

President Banda will address the conference on "HIV and Women: From double to zero while His Excellency Mr Festus Mogae, the former President of Botswana, will speak on "Shared responsibility and global solidarity." In addition, Dr Christine M. Kaseba-Sata, the First Lady of the Republic of Zambia, will deliver a keynote address at the opening.

The presence of the present and former African Heads of State and ministers is an indication of the importance African governments have attached to the conference. It is being held at a time when these governments are increasingly under pressure to deliver meaningful results in the fight against HIV and AIDS in their countries.

This against the backdrop of decreased international funding, rising poverty and continued conflicts in the region that limit the efforts of countries to effectively deal with HIV, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. Heads of State and Government, at the Special Summit of the African Union on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Nigeria in July, noted:

".in spite of the tremendous progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, challenges remain with Africa being one of the regions of the world most affect by HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, thereby constituting major threats to national and continental socio-economic development as well as to peace and security."

ICASA also comes at a time when gains are being made; UNAIDS this week, for instance, reported a 52 percent reduction in new HIV infections among children and a combined 33 percent reduction among adults and children since 2001. The report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) showed acceleration towards reaching 2015 global targets on HIV.

However, the report also found that progress has been slow in ensuring the respect of human rights, securing access to HIV services for people most at risk of HIV infection, particularly people who use drugs, and in preventing violence against women and girls - a key factor in vulnerability to HIV.

It noted: "Gender inequality, punitive laws and discriminatory actions are continuing to hamper national responses to HIV and concerted efforts are needed to address these persistent obstacles to scale up HIV services for people most in need."

For the fight against HIV, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases to become more effective, therefore, innovative methodologies need to be explored and constructive engagement among those closely involved in the field needs to take place. An examination of the current practices and policies and an understanding of those efforts that are yielding positive results will, undoubtedly, lead to greater success across the continent.

The 17th ICASA, held in Cape Town, South Africa from 7 - 11 December 2013, will provide this unique opportunity for these issues to be discussed. Importantly, it will also provide delegates with the latest information on how to implement best practice in the region, garnered from the nearly one thousand presentations made based on peer-reviewed abstracts submitted to the conference.

The conference is chaired by Professor Robert Soudré, the President of the Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) and co-chaired by Professor Ian Sanne, the CEO of Right Care and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand.

To register for the conference visit www.icasa2013southafrica.org

Follow us on Twitter @icasaconference or on Facebook at icasaconference2013

Ends

About Dira Sengwe

Dira Sengwe is a South African-based non-Governmental Organisation established in 2002 by the members of the local organising committee of the ground-breaking XIIIth International Aids Conference, Durban, 2000. The organisation emerged at a critical period in the history of the struggle for recognition of HIV and AIDS as a disease, overwhelmingly in poor countries, especially on the African continent. The organisation was established in response to the slow uptake of AIDS treatment in South Africa and established the South African Aids Conference which is organised bi-annually since 2003 as a platform to promote a unified AIDS response. Other Dira Sengwe projects include the AIDS Bravery Award and an Oral History Project. For more information on Dira Sengwe please visit: www.dirasengwe.org.

About The Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA)

The Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA), the custodian of ICASA was founded in 1989 at the fourth International Symposium on AIDS and Cancers in Africa (now ICASA) held in Marseille, France by a group of African scientists, activists and advocates in response to epidemic. SAA envisions and African continent free of HIV, TB and malaria and their debilitating effects on communal and societal structures, where people are socially and economically empowered to live product lives in dignity. For more information on SAA please visit: www.saafrica.org .

About The Foundation for Professional Development (FPD)

The Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) is a South African Private Institution of Higher Education dedicated to building a better society through education and capacity development. FPD annually provides management and clinical training to 30 000 care professionals and managers across Africa and has support the initiation on ART of more than 200 000 PLHIV. FPD also organises national and international conferences as a conduit to shape public and policy perspectives. FPD's involvement in conferences dates back to the Durban in 2000 conference where it provided the conference secretariat. For more information please visit: www.foundation.co.za. www.foundation.co.za .

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For more information about ICASA please contact:


Luc Armand Bodea
Co-ordinator
Permanent Secretariat
Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA)
Office Direct: (+233)(0) 302 913 739
Mobile (+233)(0) 543 748 781
Email: lucbodea@saafrica.org

Layton Beard
ICASA Local Secretariat
Mobile (+2782) 452 7527
Email: laytonb@vodamail.co.za



"Reproduced with permission - The Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) "

The Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA)
www.saafrica.org


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