As the 21st International AIDS Conference wraps up in Durban, South Africa, Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, incoming International AIDS Society President, talks to The Conversation Africa health and medicine editor Candice Bailey about what was achieved and what still needs to be done.
What are the three interventions or innovations that stand out at the conference in terms of taking the fight against HIV forward?
There has been exciting work about how we do treatment better to make sure we get to the 34 million who are infected. And that’s absolutely critical. We have to reach those 34 million people but we know that health systems, particularly in the sub-Saharan region, are struggling. So there was some wonderful work on differentiated models of care, how we can do business more effectively and efficiently and ways we can do the steps in the cascade more efficiently.
And I’ve loved some of the testing innovations. Addressing all the steps from testing is critical.
Secondly I’m passionate about primary prevention but I think we’ve got some gaps on how we can do it. I’m a great proponent of daily pre-exposure prophylaxis and I really think we should roll it out because it works. But I’m very excited about the prospect of what’s coming down the road in terms of less frequent dosing for pre-exposure prophylaxis.
Number three is a fresh approach to adolescents. This conference has reinvigorated the notion that we have to get adolescents to the table. We have done well, I think, in getting adolescents to be really well represented. And it works. You feel their voice.
See full interview at The Conversation Africa.