Francistown Mayor Sylvia Muzila believes that new HIV infections can be eliminated by the year 2030.
Muzila outlined how this would be possible during a press briefing held at the Adansonia Hotel on Tuesday to introduce the Mayor 90-90-90 HIV/AIDS intervention initiative.
The global initiative was originally adopted by mayors from around the world at an HIV/AIDS conference in Paris, France, in December 2014.
Aimed at fast tracking action towards ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030, the project aims to have 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, have 90 percent of those knowing their HIV positive status on treatment and have 90 percent of those on treatment with suppressed viral loads.
According to the Ghetto’s first citizen, the initiative, which has been running in Gaborone since 2015, will be officially launched in the second city at a ceremony to be attended by Health and Wellness Minister, Dorcus Makgatho, senior government officials, community leaders and other stakeholders next Tuesday (31st of Jan).
“As mayors, we strongly believe we can stop all new infections, avert AIDS related deaths, fight tuberculosis and all other infectious diseases,” Muzila told her audience, adding that this can only be achieved with the community’s participation.
“Together we can achieve or surpass the 90-90-90 targets and even reach a hundred percent,” she stressed, calling on the media and the community to play their part in driving the initiative.
On another note, Muzila said the programme will not only be centered in cities but will include villages and Districts were it will be lead by Council Chairpersons whose status is equal to those of city mayors.
Mayor Muzila went on to note that in order to ensure success in ending the HIV epidemic by 2030 the project will be people centered.
“We want to achieve this by providing sustained access to testing, treatment and prevention services. We want to put people at the centre of everything we do, especially vulnerable groups such as sex workers, drug users, those who have sex with people of the same sex and young women,” she explained, adding that they would use all tools at their disposal to drive the initiative.
“We will use council resources and others tools to address factors that make people vulnerable. We will also work with service providers, vulnerable populations and law enforcement. We will also mobilize resources for public health and development. We will invest in AIDS response and adapt our city plans and resources for a fast tracked response,” Muzila quipped.
Calling on communities to show some love for those affected by HIV/AIDS, Muzila pleaded, “We can end stigma and discrimination and ensure that every person in our cities and villages has access to life saving HIV and Tuberculosis prevention, treatment, care and support services.”