* Some African countries make great progress, others lag
* Disparity means one-size-fits-all approach will not work
* Campaigners say community by community focus now needed
By Kate Kelland
LONDON, Nov 26 Progress in the battle against
AIDS is widely divergent in different African countries, so much
so that to talk about "AIDS in Africa" as one epidemic needing a
single approach has become an anachronism, campaigners said on
In an analysis of the state of the global fight against the
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS, the advocacy group
ONE said that while some African countries had reached a
"tipping point" against the disease, others lag far behind.
More than 35 million people worldwide are infected with HIV,
which causes AIDS, and 25 million are in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet
within Africa, rates of HIV and AIDS vary widely.
"Our analysis shows major distinctions between leaders and
laggards, and that a one-size-fits-all approach to tackling AIDS
on the continent does not make sense," said Erin Hohlfelder,
ONE's global health policy director.
"It's no longer useful to talk about AIDS from a
continent-wide perspective," she said in a telephone interview.
"It's time to retire the phrase, 'AIDS in Africa'."
ONE is an advocacy group, co-founded by the U2 front man and
campaigner Bono, fighting to end poverty and preventable
disease, particularly in Africa.
According to its report, 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa
have reached what experts describe as the "beginning of the end
of AIDS" - a point when the total number of new HIV infections
is lower than the number of patients newly receiving AIDS
treatment in the same year.
Leading the pack are countries such as Ghana, Malawi and
Zambia, where governments, international donors and civil
society leaders have worked together, the report said, and as a
result have made dramatic progress against HIV/AIDS.
Yet at the same time other countries - such as Cameroon,
Nigeria and Togo - lag far behind, often hampered by a lack of
political will to tackle HIV, inadequate funding, poor delivery
systems and stigma against marginalised populations where HIV
infections are more frequent.
"Increasingly, both in terms of how we talk about the
disease and also how we fight it, it makes more sense to look
country by country, even community by community," said
"Then we can think about what progress we've made, what
challenges remain and how best to put resources into tackling
Looking globally, the ONE report found significant progress
towards achieving "the beginning of the end of AIDS".
"If current rates of progress continue, the world can reach
that milestone by 2015." it said.
Hohlfelder cautioned, however, that getting there is "not a
foregone conclusion", but depends on donors and affected
countries doing more together to ensure HIV treatment and
prevention services reach all those who need them.
The ONE report said one of the most serious problems for the
global HIV/AIDS fight is a lack of money.
According to UNAIDS, there is a $3 to $5 billion shortfall
in the annual $22 to $24 billion needed to turn the tide against
Funding from international donors for AIDS has flatlined,
and besides that, the majority of African governments are also
not meeting their commitments to spend 15 percent of their
budgets on health.
"In many ways, the AIDS fight is struggling as a result of
its successes," Hohlfelder said. "Because it is no longer
perceived as a global health emergency, but rather a chronic and
manageable disease, the fight has lost some of its political
(Editing by Alison Williams)