World AIDS Day
December 1st is designated as World AIDS Day, and this year’s theme is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation.”
In a blog from the US Department of Health and Human Services, they share that 35 million people are living with HIV worldwide, with 13.6 million receiving critical antiretroviral therapies. And thankfully, new infections are declining yearly. There were 2.1 million new infections in 2013, a 38% decline from new infections reported in 2012. According to the World Health Organization, 70% of new cases each year occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Access to drugs and diagnostics is absolutely essential to achieving an AIDS-free generation.
The world is making great progress towards having a generation free from AIDS, but much still needs to be done. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS has identified “90-90-90” targets to achieve by 2020. These milestones aim to have 90% of people living with HIV know their status, 90% of people who know their status receive treatment, and 90% of people on HIV treatment having a suppressed viral load so their immune system remains so strong that they are not infectious. But to achieve those goals and have a lasting response to the worldwide AIDS epidemic, sustaining AIDS/HIV treatment is key.
Currently 1 in 7 people living with HIV/AIDS don’t know they are infected. This means they may be unknowingly passing the virus to sexual partners, and are not accessing life saving treatments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages everyone to get tested and anyone can access listings for testing sites at gettested.cdc.gov. In Canada you can find a local Provincial/Territorial HIV/AIDS hotline here. People can also call their local helpline or Information and Referral center like 211, as they can also typically help people find their local testing site.
Together, through education, prevention, testing, and life saving treatments, we can achieve a generation that is free from AIDS.