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African Civil Society Forum

The RethinkHIV African Civil Society Forum took place in Addis Ababa in December 2011, at ICASA 2011, Africa's largest conference on HIV/AIDS. ICASA 2011 brought together more than 10,000 participants from 103 countries.

RethinkHIV held a Pre-Conference Satellite Meeting, entitled, "Defining Priorities in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS", attracting more than 250 members of African civil society.

This group was introduced briefly to the RethinkHIV research and the Georgetown University Expert Panel findings, and they identified their own priority investments in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Rush Foundation President Marina Galanti welcomed the audience, and LSHTM director and UNAIDS founding director Peter Piot delivered an address about the need for priorities. Presentations were made by the RethinkHIV Civil Society Panel, comprising Bactrin Killingo, Ken Odumbe, Nduku Kilonzo, Retta Menberu, and Christiana Laniyan. 

Copenhagen Consensus Center director Bjørn Lomborg guided the audience through the key findings of each of the RethinkHIV Assessment Papers, and the representatives of African Civil Society engaged in a prioritization exercise designed to answer the question:

If we successfully raised an additional US$10 billion over the next 5 years to combat HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, how could it best be spent?

The group identified their own views about the top-ranked priorities for investment, and an overall list of priorities was formed based on each individual's final rankings. These indicate the investments where, overall, delegates felt that additional funds should first be directed. The list below represents the overall prioritization of the individuals present.

The Ranking by African Civil Society at ICASA 2011 in Addis Ababa

  1. Prevent mother-to-child transmission by scaling up Option A treatment of pregnant women and breast feeding infants to 90 per cent coverage in all countries
  2. Scale-up antiretroviral treatment starting with the sickest and most infectious patients first
  3. Create incentives for less risky sexual behavior by offering conditional cash transfers to all girls from impoverished families to keep them in secondary school 
  4. Create an Abuja Goals Fund offering a 'cash-on-delivery ' incentive to nations that meet the Abuja Declaration target of spending 15 per cent of public revenues on public health
  5. Make blood transfusions safe by achieving 100 per cent coverage of quality-assured HIV testing of donated blood
  6. Accelerate AIDS vaccine development by scaling up funding for innovative vaccine research by 10 per cent or $100 million per year
  7. Scale-up male circumcision for young adults in high HIV prevalence countries
  8. Introduce a 25 per cent increase on alcohol taxes in countries with moderate-to-high levels of drinking and high adult mortality