Since 1988, each year on 1 December World AIDS Day is observed raising awareness of the ongoing AIDS pandemic and mourning those who have died of the disease.
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While for now the focus of the international community may be on the COVID-19 fight, the global HIV epidemic is not over and may even be accelerating. According to WHO, in 2019, 38 million people globally were living with HIV infection, of whom one-fifth were not aware of their infection and one-third were not always able to receive treatment. 690,000 people died last year from HIV-related causes and 1.7 million people were newly infected.
The international goal spearheaded by WHO and UNADIS is to eliminate AIDS by 2030, but the ’90-90-90’ intermediate targets for 2020 – 90% of people living with HIV are aware of their status; 90% of people diagnosed with HIV are receiving treatment; and 90% of all people receiving treatment have achieved viral suppression – will not be reached.
This year, WHO has chosen to focus on ‘Global solidarity, resilient HIV services’ as the theme for World AIDS Day. The key actions to ensure the above goals are achieved, are:
- Renew the fight to end HIV. Amid the pandemic, the global AIDS response has slowed down and this needs to be urgently counteracted to make sure the disease have been eliminated by 2030.
- Use innovative HIV services to ensure continued HIV care, such as multi-month prescriptions of HIV medicines recommended by WHO.
- Engage and protect nurses, midwives and community health workers delivering services for HIV and COVID-19.
- Prioritise the vulnerable – youth and key HIV-affected populations – during the COVID-19 pandemic ensuring they receive the necessary care.
To mark World AIDS Day, WHO is holding an open webinar on 1 December bringing together a panel of distinguished speakers, including Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General; Peter Sands, Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV (UNAIDS); among others. Click here for the programme and registration.