World AIDS Day 2017: Everybody counts
Friday, 01 December 2017
Posted by: Tasveera Singh
In 2015, global leaders signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals, with the aim to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030. The UHC framework now lies at the centre of all health programmes.
To complement the global World AIDS Day 2017 campaign which promotes the theme "Right to health", the World Health Organization will highlight the need for all 36.7 million people living with HIV and those who are vulnerable and affected by the epidemic, to reach the goal of universal health coverage.
Under the slogan "Everybody counts", WHO will advocate for access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines, including medicines, diagnostics and other health commodities as well as health care services for all people in need, while also ensuring that they are protected against financial risks.
Key messages to achieve universal health coverage
- Leave no one behind.
- HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis services are integrated.
- High-quality services are available for those with HIV.
- People living with HIV have access to affordable care.
- The HIV response is robust and leads to stronger health systems
- HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far. In 2016, 1.0 million people died from HIV-related causes globally.
- There were approximately 36.7 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016 with 1.8 million people becoming newly infected in 2016 globally.
- 54% of adults and 43% of children living with HIV are currently receiving lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART).
- Global ART coverage for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV is high at 76% .
- The WHO African Region is the most affected region, with 25.6 million people living with HIV in 2016. The African region also accounts for almost two thirds of the global total of new HIV infections.
- HIV infection is often diagnosed through rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), which detect the presence or absence of HIV antibodies. Most often these tests provide same-day test results, which are essential for same day diagnosis and early treatment and care.
- Key populations are groups who are at increased risk of HIV irrespective of epidemic type or local context. They include: men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people in prisons and other closed settings, sex workers and their clients, and transgender people.
- Key populations often have legal and social issues related to their behaviours that increase vulnerability to HIV and reduce access to testing and treatment programmes.
- In 2015, an estimated 44% of new infections occurred among key populations and their partners.
- There is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective antiretroviral (ARV) drugs can control the virus and help prevent transmission so that people with HIV, and those at substantial risk, can enjoy healthy, long and productive lives.
- It is estimated that currently only 70% of people with HIV know their status. To reach the target of 90%, an additional 7.5 million people need to access HIV testing services. In mid-2017, 20.9 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally.
- Between 2000 and 2016, new HIV infections fell by 39%, and HIV-related deaths fell by one third with 13.1 million lives saved due to ART in the same period. This achievement was the result of great efforts by national HIV programmes supported by civil society and a range of development partners.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) targets the immune system and weakens people's defence systems against infections and some types of cancer. As the virus destroys and impairs the function of immune cells, infected individuals gradually become immunodeficient. Immune function is typically measured by CD4 cell count.
Immunodeficiency results in increased susceptibility to a wide range of infections, cancers and other diseases that people with healthy immune systems can fight off.
The most advanced stage of HIV infection is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which can take from 2 to 15 years to develop depending on the individual. AIDS is defined by the development of certain cancers, infections, or other severe clinical manifestations.
HIV testing services
HIV testing should be voluntary and the right to decline testing should be recognized. Mandatory or coerced testing by a health care provider, authority, or by a partner or family member is not acceptable as it undermines good public health practice and infringes on human rights.