The conference kicked off with artistic performances followed by high level speakers from civil society, government, and international organizations. Some of these are included below:
Titica, Angola’s first prominent transgender artist, opened the evening.
Scottish singer and activist Annie Lennox complimented South Africa on its progress in the response to HIV and AIDS but cited the need for more action and accountability, especially in the fight to end sexual violence.
“78 countries still condemn same-sex relationships,” shared Cyriaque Ako, an HIV-positive activist from Cote D’Ivoire. He emphasized the need for the global community to advocate for marginalized communities.
“The solution to the [HIV and AIDS] epidemic lies with women,” said Her Excellency Christine Kaseba-Sata, first lady of Zambia, as she stressed the need to integrate HIV and AIDS services with family planning and reproductive health services.
Acting Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah von Zinkelnagel shared PEPFAR’s vision for the future and its achievements in the areas of ART, PMTCT, and VMMC.
Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé advised delegates: “do not be scared of shaping our future – where no one is left behind” and called for the inclusion of the epidemic on the post-2015 agenda and an end to AIDS by 2030.
Concluding the evening, Deputy President of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe stated the importance of investing in health as an essential part of development. “We have the tools necessary, all we have to do is deploy them” to reach our goals.
All photos credit of Johanna Theunissen/MSH.