There are many reasons to be optimistic about Africa today. The economy is quickly growing, mobile phones are becoming increasingly available and the continent’s democracies are becoming stronger. Children, especially girls, have more access to education than ever before and poverty is waning. The continent that was once known for being plagued with health problems now offers citizens increased access to health care. For the first time in history, AIDS prevalence is waning in many countries.
In the last five years, the number of people dying from AIDS throughout Africa has declined. The rate of new infections as also dropped significantly, and more people than ever before are receiving antiretroviral treatments for HIV. According to the Secretary General these are important achievements, but challanges still remain.
These advancements were made thanks to the actions of dedicated citizens, politicians and a global community of concerned activists. The continent is shedding its past discrimination of AIDS patients, increasingly investing in health care and including HIV education in schools. These initiatives point to a new future for Africa, one where new HIV infections and deaths from the virus are a thing of the past. To accomplish this, Africa needs the continued support of the international community.
In January, the African Union called upon international organizations to share in the responsibility for eliminating HIV and AIDS on the continent. While domestic investments in Africa have significantly grown in the last ten years, there is still a wide financial gap that must be bridged. It is estimated that an additional $3 to 4 billion are needed to fund education, treatment and other health services.
The investments made by the international community are worth the cost. Case studies from South Africa show that increased access to antiretroviral drugs reduces the amount of new HIV infections by 40 percent. Similar results have been seen in other nations across the continent. These investments are needed to continue creating a more optimistic future for Africa.