Mr. Michel Sidibé is the Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations since January 1, 2009

Majority know their HIV status

  • 1 December, 2018

While Lesotho was preparing for Friday’s World Aids Day (WAD) commemorations, the recent UNAIDS report shows that 75% of all people living with HIV worldwide know their HIV status.

The report also calls for increased efforts to reach out to the 9.4 million people living with HIV but they are not aware of their status and the estimated 19.4 million people living with HIV who do not have a suppressed viral load. As such, Lesotho has embarked on a mobilisation initiative to partner with the media to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS in an effort to attain an AIDS-free generation by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report from UNAIDS further shows that intensified HIV testing and treatment efforts are reaching more people living with HIV. In 2017, it is reported that three quarters of people living with HIV knew their HIV status, compared to 67% in 2015, and that 21.7 million people living with HIV (59%) had access to antiretroviral therapy, up from 17.2 million in 2015.

The report shows, however, that 9.4 million people living with HIV do not know they are living with the virus and they urgently need to be linked to HIV testing and treatment services.

A revelation has additionally been made that although the number of people living with HIV who are virally suppressed has risen by around 10 percentage points in the past three years, reaching 47% in 2017, 19.4 million people living with HIV still do not have a suppressed viral load and that to remain healthy and prevent transmission of the disease, the virus needs to be suppressed to undetectable or very low levels through sustained antiretroviral therapy.

As such, to effectively monitor viral load, people living with HIV need access to viral load testing every 12 months.

This was affirmed by Mr. Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, who is quoted as saying that viral load testing is the gold standard in HIV treatment monitoring because it shows that treatment is working and keeping the virus firmly under control; thus, keeping people alive.

 

The report also outlines that access to viral load testing is easy in some parts of the world and it is fully integrated into a person’s HIV treatment regime, but in other countries, they are no sufficient viral load machines; therefore, the HIV treatment regime is compromised.

“HIV testing and viral load testing should be equal and accessible to all people living with HIV, without exception,” said Mr. Sidibé

This year's UNAIDS theme for World AIDS Day is “Live life positively—know your HIV status”. This means HIV testing remains the only way for one to know one’s status and to adopt a healthy life plan. Lena

Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger