MSF pays tribute to the people fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa and launches “Positive Generation: Voices for an AIDS free future”

December 3, 2011

MSF pays tribute to the people fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa and launches “Positive Generation: Voices for an AIDS free future”

Harare and Madrid, December 1st 2011. “Positive Generation: Voices for an AIDS free future” is a project based on songs from HIV support groups in Zimbabwe, mixed with international artists that have collaborated voluntarily, including Alejandro Sanz, Paula Fernandes, Estelle and Oliver TUKU Mtukudzi among many others. Through this project MSF wants to raise awareness about the reality of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, highlight the ‘positive’ life of people on treatment and the importance of prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs, and alert about the consequences of the current funding shortfalls on the life of thousands of patients.

MSF is using music to pass important messages about the virus in Zimbabwe, to explain to patients and their families that they are not alone, that treatment can stabilise the illness and that the stigma must be broken. Support group choirs, largely made up of Zimbabweans living with the virus or affected by it, are the best examples of an open, positive approach to HIV/AIDS. Their testimonies and songs encourage others to ask for HIV diagnosis and treatment, and raise awareness that prevents infection.

“With this project we want to pay tribute to a generation of people who are living ‘positively’ with HIV. They are the best testimonies to fight stigma and transmit positive messages. With our operational experience in HIV from 2000 and the latest progress in HIV science, we know that an AIDS free generation is possible with good models implemented in the field. We need to keep fighting to reach this goal,” Mari Carmen Viñoles, MSF Head of Mission in Zimbabwe.

Through Positive Generation, MSF wants to underline the recent progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, whilst highlighting the dangers threatening to stop or even reverse it. Recent research has shown that early treatment has a significant impact on reducing HIV transmission, which could contribute not only to saving lives but also helps prevent new infections.

Zimbabwe, the country with the third highest HIV burden in Southern Africa where 14% of adults (about one million people) and 150,000 children living with HIV, has taken ambitious steps to improve HIV/AIDS programming. With positive results: currently 63% of those in need of ART are receiving treatment, up from only 5% in 2006 and expanded ART coverage has reduced annual AIDS deaths by 42% since 2006.

However, these progresses which could enable a future free from HIV, are threatened by a lack of funding and programme closures. Zimbabwe, like many other high prevalence countries will require additional funding in the coming years, yet, AIDS funding is being cut back as was confirmed in the last Global Fund board meeting a week ago in Accra, Ghana. “We are facing a serious situation. We are experiencing some of the most promising developments in more than a decade of treating patients living with HIV/AIDS, with the potential to turn this epidemic around. Yet these promises will come to nothing if there is not enough funding; we are even running a serious risk of losing ground in the fight against HIV/AIDS”, said Paula Farias, the project coordinator of Positive Generation.

Without donors making every effort to fulfil their pledges and step up to meet the real needs, implementing countries will inevitably face disruptions of their programs. Consequently, gains made in previous investments will be lost and real opportunities for programs to demonstrate high impact will be missed.

More funding is also crucial to ensure attention to paediatric HIV, with targeted strategies and adapted treatment, and to implement prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes, a key strategy to achieve an AIDS free generation, in highly HIV prevalent countries such as Zimbabwe.

The project “Positive Generation: Voices for an HIV free future”, which includes a CD/book, a documentary, and a website, will be internationally launched December 1st. The project is an MSF and Casa Limón production, managed and produced by the Spanish artists Alejandro Sanz, Antonio Carmona and Javier Limón with voluntary contributions from musicians, composers and performers from around the world, as the Zimbabwean Oliver TUKU Mtukudzi and Chiwoniso Maraire, Juan Luis Guerra (Santo Domingo), Carlos Vives (Colombia), Paula Fernandes (Brasil), Estelle (UK), Ali Amr (Morocco), David Broza (Israel), Karina Pasian (USA), Tino di Geraldo (France), Estrella Morente (Spain), Carminho & Diogo Clemente (Portugal), Andrés Calamaro (Argentina), Iván “Melón” Lewis (Cuba), Miguel Campillo elbicho (Spain) and Ariadna Castellanos (Spain).

In Zimbabwe, MSF offers comprehensive HIV/AIDS care in health clinics in six cities, offering preventive services, counselling, testing and treatment. In 2010, more than 34,000 patients received ARV treatment through MSF programmes.

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