In her opening speech, the General Director of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan noted that the world is facing difficult times, including the economic crisis, job insecurity, armed conflicts and a large number of people living on the edge, fearing for their lives. "In these difficult times, public health appears more and more as a refuge, a safe haven of hope, which enables and inspires all countries to work together for the good of humanity," said Dr Chan.
In recent years, the scourge of HIV / AIDS is hitting severely what should be the "safe haven and hope" for many Africans. In 2012, again in Geneva, the DREAM program had wanted to address the issue of prevention of mother-infant transmission and maternal mortality related to HIV, identifying in pregnancy a sufficient criterion to start antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected women and demonstrating how this approach will be feasible and effective, not only to reduce the rate of vertical transmission, but also to save the lives of mothers and thus ensuring a future for mothers and children.
Within a year, there have been significant steps forward and this approach has been "certified" by a published update of the WHO guidelines, which introduced the so-called "Option B +", for which the pregnancy becomes the sole criterion for deciding the beginning of antiretroviral therapy for women, regardless of their clinical and immunological status.
On the occasion of this great event of global health, for the second consecutive year, the DREAM program has organized a side-event entitled "DREAM: Achieving Results in HIV Positive Patients in Sub-Saharan Africa."
Today the problem is how to retain patients in treatment programs that last a lifetime. Intervention programs like DREAM have shown that a successful approach is based not only on the administration of therapies, but also on building a comprehensive model of care. This requires a strong community approach and the presence of social capital of high quality. It is an ambitious goal that will require an engagement and strengthening the relationship between donors, civil society and international actors such as DREAM.
The side-event was attended by representatives of 13 countries, International Organizations and NGOs. The session was addressed by the Scientific Director of the DREAM program, the Executive Director of the Global Fund and the Director of the Department of HIV / AIDS of the WHO. It was underlined the importance of this historical phase in which there is the possibility of eradicating HIV infection from specific subgroups at risk: infants, pregnant women, the world of prostitution. The discussion focused on how a global model can be applied efficiently and effectively in different contexts of health systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Gratuity, access to treatment, support of the community, early diagnosis in children, support of computer technology, are some of the keywords that emerged in the discussion. The participants underlined the value of DREAM and achievements that go well beyond the proper functioning of the centers of care and take on the meaning of a gift to the fight against AIDS in the world.
The Community of Sant'Egidio, with the DREAM program, is convinced and it is showing that through an African model of fight against HIV/AIDS, it is possible to achieve decisive results in a reasonable time. It 's the message that DREAM wanted to spread from Geneva, encouraging the efforts of the international community: it is possible to reach the end of the epidemic.