Billions of people are marking yet another World AIDS Day - this one themed "Getting to Zero", for zero AIDS-related deaths, zero new infections, and zero stigma and discrimination.
But in Africa, what may be needed is zero tolerance for corruption so that funds required to fight HIV/AIDS and create awareness around the virus do not get siphoned away.
"In East Africa alone, Uganda has had its main source of HIV funding suspended. Kenya has, on several occasions, come close to a similar fate due to evidence of massive misappropriation of HIV funding," says John Peter Kaguruzi, a public policy analyst in Rwanda.
"In Djibouti, of the 5.3 million dollars given as an anti-HIV grant, 750,000 dollars were spent on expenditure that cannot be explained. Similar stories are rife in Zambia and Mali. More audits would most likely reveal misuse of such funds which has denied many people access to preventive as well as curative initiatives," Kaguruzi says.
Creating awareness has been important in places like Kenya where those afflicted were stigmatized and seen as promiscuous. When they died, they were buried in a polythene bag.
Over the years, Kenyans have become more aware of HIV/AIDS but that has not reduced the stigma attached to the disease. Neither has it significantly curbed risky sexual behavior. Some 1.4 million Kenyans are currently living with HIV.
Statistics by UNAIDS, the joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS prevention and cure, show that an estimated 22.5 million people were living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. Slightly over half of them are women. Children have not been spared; they account for 2.3 million of this figure.
Years of research do not appear to ...