KIGALI, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Global gains made in AIDS fight are under threat due to declining political commitment and funding, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said here on Monday.
At an international AIDS conference, the WHO chief said in 2018, 770,000 people died from HIV and 1.7 million people were newly infected and the vast majority of these cases and deaths occurred in Africa.
An AIDS-free world can be achieved with "innovation, community engagement and political leadership," he told the opening ceremony of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) that runs in Dec. 2-7 in Kigali.
HIV pandemic will remain a global challenge in the foreseeable future, said ICASA president John Idoko.
He called upon the governments to seek domestic solutions for a sustainable response against HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame said at the opening ceremony that stigma and silence are "real killers" for sexually transmitted infections, as they hinder people from learning and accepting their status.
"Open dialogue saves lives," the president said.
The conference held under the theme "AIDS-free Africa" drew nearly 8,000 participants including leaders, activists, scientists and researchers from across the world to discuss the role of political leadership, collaboration and innovation in advancing efforts to end AIDS by 2030.
More than 37 million people were living with HIV worldwide in 2018, where Africa accounted for about one in every 25 adults infected with the virus, according to the WHO.