The 9th South African AIDS Conference kicked off in Durban on Tuesday with the aim of combining efforts to end HIV epidemic.

The four-day conference will focus on innovation in the area of HIV under the theme: “Unprecedented Innovations and Technologies: HIV and Change.”

This conference is the second largest HIV conference in the world, attended by over 3,000 people, 25 percent of which are from countries other than South Africa, which has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world.

It is one of the more prominent sought-after HIV/AIDS meetings of scientists, policy makers, medical practitioners, government departments and civil society.

The conference will focus on the unprecedented scientific, social and digital innovations/technologies which could expand possibilities and opportunities toward controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic, said Conference Chair Refilwe Phaswa.

Participants will determine how contemporary explosive and disruptive technologies will contribute toward sustained HIV prevention efforts, HIV testing, ART (antiretroviral) uptake and adherence, trigger the development of new drugs, effectively utilize enormous volumes of data and improve communication and service delivery and eventually end the epidemic, said Phaswa.

According to Phaswa, the conference will highlight milestones, initiatives, strategies, models, systems and best practices in accelerating the control of the HIV/AIDS epidemic ahead of the 2020 global 90-90-90 targets: 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of HIV patients are on ART treatment and 90 percent of patients have a suppressed viral load.

In this regard, five carefully thought through conference tracks have been coined and clearly described to maximize relevant engagement, Phaswa said.

The conference is anticipated to contribute towards increased efficiencies, becoming future-ready in addressing the HIV epidemic nationally, regionally and globally, said Phaswa.

“I would encourage everyone to attend this premier event to share best practices, successes, challenges as well as learn from one another’s experience to make this event a memorable milestone on our journey toward epidemic control,” she said.

On the sidelines of the conference, the South African Department of Health embarked on activities that included a launch of South Africa’s Human Rights Plan and an awareness march in response to HIV, tuberculosis and gender-related violations in Durban, a coastal city in southeastern South Africa. Enditem



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