The strategy adopted by OAFLA and the Africa Union is to co-lead a continental campaign to end new HIV infections in children and keep mothers alive called Free to Shine Campaign. The latter was officially launched on January 2018 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. The First Ladies of Africa have played a vital role in building awareness and harnessing political commitment to the AIDS response and the broader health and development agenda
Globally, since the start of the HIV epidemic, women in many regions have been disproportionately affected by HIV. While new HIV infections in Africa have shown a decline, figures differ per country and per group. Young women aged 15-22 make up 66% of new infections and in some regions, over 50% of children born to HIV-positive women get the disease. This vertical transmission from a mother to her child during pregnancy is the cause of a majority of new infections in children. Women of childbearing age who are at risk of being infected by HIV will not only affect their own future but that of their offsprings by easily transmitting the virus to them. To break the mother to child transmission and maintain the gains obtained continent-wide, African countries have jointly adopted a number of the initiative through the Africa Union.
The campaign aims to leverage the unique engagement and advocacy of First Ladies in Africa, reinforcing the political commitment of African leadership, to end childhood HIV and keep mothers healthy.
Since its official launch in 2018, twenty-three African countries have launched or integrated the campaign into existing programs, under the leadership of the First Ladies in the respective countries.