Gaborone City Mayor, His Worship Austin Abraham, has signed on 8 November in Gaborone the Paris Declaration on Fast Track Cities in ending the HIV Epidemic which aims at achieving Zero HIV related Stigma and the 95-95-95 Targets on track towards Getting to zero new HIV infections and Zero related deaths. Gaborone City officially joins more than 450 cities and municipalities in the Fast Track Cities Initiative.
The Mayor also jointly signed the Sevilla Declaration on the Centrality of Affected Communities in Urban HIV Responses (Sevilla Declaration). It places people at the centre of urban HIV response. It provides structure and empowers people living with HIV to play a leadership role more formally in HIV responses at city and municipal levels. In a pledge of support and appreciation, a representative of Botswana Network of People Living with HIV & AIDS (BONEPWA+), Mr Gasekgale Moalosi, said the network, supported by NAHPA, the coordinating body of the AIDS response, will collaborate with Gaborone City to ensure meaningful engagement of people living with AIDS in the planning and implementation of community-led interventions- “for nothing is for us without us”.
His Worship the Mayor noted that by signing, Gaborone City Council acknowledges that to end the epidemic, there should be a holistic approach which provides everyone with access to HIV prevention, care and support services for HIV. He added that Gaborone city stands with other cities around the world in the fight to eradicate HIV. He appreciates UNAIDS for partnering with Gaborone City in committing to end the HIV pandemic by 2030.
UNAIDS Country Director and Representative, Botswana , Mr Alankar Malviya remarked that Botswana has made a wonderful progress on 95-95-95 (percent of persons living with HIV (PLHIV) aware of their status, on treatment, and virally suppressed) and on path to elimination of vertical transmission. Mr Alankar further stressed that there is a need to do much better in closing the tap of new infections with high impact programming on adolescent girls and young women and key populations. He urged the city leadership to ensure that the achievement of Botswana in committing to end AIDS by 2030 is sustained by tackling inequalities that are driving new inflections. He also urged the leadership to continue to lead SADC and the world in the fight against AIDS by 2030.
Paris was the first city to join the Fast Track Cities Initiative and is a core partner. Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Ambassador of France to Botswana His Excellency Olivier Brochenn congratulated Botswana for managing to lower the risk of mother-to-child transmission to less than 5% and for its outstanding response to the epidemic, with one of the most comprehensive and effective HIV treatment programs which allowed Botswana to reach the UNAIDS HIV treatment target in 2021 ahead of 2025. HE Brochenn also stated that France has been in the fight against HIV for since the early years of HIV through its associates, doctors, its hospitals and its political leaders.