18th ICASA | 29 NOV - 4 DEC 2015 | HARARE | ZIMBABWE
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ICASA indaba roars to life


Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Delegates to the 18th International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa (ICASA) started arriving in the country this week, with organisers of the event saying all is now set for successful hosting of the conference which starts tomorrow.

At least 5 000 delegates from all over the world are expected in the country for the conference which has attracted attention from various parts of the globe.

ICASA communications manager Mrs Tariro Makanga-Chikumbirike said a number of events related to the conference were held in various parts of the country throughout the week.

Mrs Makanga-Chikumbirike said while the official opening of the conference will be done tomorrow evening, delegates will start on-site accreditation to participate at the conference today.

“Most of what needed to be done was completed and we will be opening for on-site registration tomorrow afternoon (today),” said Mrs Makanga-Chikumbirike.

She said volunteers who will be assisting on smooth running of the conference have been trained and are ready to start work.

Mrs Makanga-Chikumbirike said over 5 000 delegates have now registered for the continent’s largest gathering on HIV and STIs.

The seven-day conference, which will be officially opened by President Mugabe, will run under the theme “AIDS in Post 2015 Era: Linking Leadership, Science and Human Rights”.

The scientific programme would see a number of presentations on bio-medical advances, elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV, achieving the United Nations targets of ensuring that at least 90 percent of populations know their status.

The programme also aims at making sure that 90 percent of those who know their status have access to treatment and that at least 90 percent of those on treatment have their viral load suppressed by the year 2020.

The conference will also deliberate on Sexually Transmitted Diseases, including Ebola, in high risk populations such as commercial sex workers and hepatitis, among other topics.

The World Health Organisation is also expected to announce the new recommendations on treatment and management of people living with HIV and Aids.

The only patient in the world, who was “cured” of HIV, Mr Timothy Brown popularly known as the Berlin patient, is also expected to make a presentation at the conference. Mr Brown was “cured” of the HIV, but doctors and scientists are not sure if the virus was completely eradicated from his body or is in recession.

There will be a leadership programme whose main highlights will include the First Ladies’ session, which First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe is expected to host, and four other First Ladies from different countries are expected to participate.

The First Ladies will deliberate on the role of the First Ladies in embracing and sustaining change in the HIV response.

ICASA will also explore HIV issues affecting communities such as those in prisons, gays and lesbians, sex workers and people living with disabilities.

The role of community participation in responding to HIV will also be deliberated at the conference.

In line with community participation, Zimbabwe has also created a community village where issues to do with activism will be held.

Cameroonian soccer star Samuel Eto’o is expected to officially open the community village.

A number of side events have also been lined up ranging from poster exhibitions chronicling the journey into the HIV epidemic, satellite and parallel sessions.

Researchers, policy makers, programmers, activists and young people will take part at the conference.

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