Beijing, China – International effort for the prevention, testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Africa is gaining significant progress, with the latest being an agreement signed between the United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and Chinese digital television provider, StarTimes.
According to the agreement, StarTimes and UNAIDS will work together to increase awareness of HIV and to reduce stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV and whose live affected by HIV across the broadcast networks of StarTimes that are available throughout the African continent.
During the signing ceremony at UNAIDS office in Beijing on Friday, May 12, Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS Executive Director, expressed optimism about controlling the spread of the epidemic when people have the knowledge of protecting themselves.
Mr. Sidibi, also Under Secretary General of the United Nations, was thrilled by the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding but said “with all the success being made against the virus, there’s need to double efforts in order to reach zero affection, zero death and zero stigmatization and discrimination.”
StarTimes Group President, Pang Xinxing, asserted that mankind is on the road to victory against the epidemic but said there are lingering challenges like messages of prevention, education and awareness about the virus not reaching to everyone.
Mr. Pang emphasized the “very important” role the media can play in fighting against HIV/AIDS across Africa, adding that he “firmly believes if more hands are join together, zero deaths, zero infection, and zero discrimination can be achieved.”
Continued Mr. Pang: “StarTimes has decided to work with UNAIDS because we have the capacity and we have our own social responsibility and that’s why we joined hands together.”
The firm says it started HIV/AIDS awareness on its network back in 2016 and was even engaged with Ebola messages in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea during the virus outbreak in West Africa between 2014 and 2015.
This agreement allows StarTimes to broadcast HIV/AIDS messages about prevention, early testing and treatment to over 45 countries in Africa without any cost to the UN agency, something the UNAIDS executive director said will be effective “because the messages will extend from few countries to many more on the continent”.
“The major challenge for us is testing, because we have people who are HIV positive and do not know,” Sidibe said. “If we continue at the same pace and accelerate, we will be able to put more people on treatment and reduce the transmission at 95% from person to person,” adding that there are over 12 million people in Africa that are on treatment.
UNAIDS has an ‘ambitious treatment for all’ plan captured in its 90-90-90 objective which looks to put over 30 million people on treatment, ensure 90% of people living with the virus know their status, are put on antiretroviral, and achieve virus suppression before 2020.
Experts say widening awareness about the virus is one surest way of achieving this ‘ambitious’ target. The Chinese digital television company says it is determine to help make people in Africa aware of the virus because its signal has reached about 10,000 villages on the continent ever since Chinese President Xi Jinping assured Africa at the 2013 Forum of China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) about improving its digital television capacity for people to have affordable digital television services.