As the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS and its partners convene an emergency meeting in South Africa on HIV prevention this week, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urges UNAIDS, government leaders, and all relevant stakeholders to urgently place the focus of the global HIV/AIDS response on testing, treatment initiation, and late presentation.
The three-day meeting on prevention aims to address the 1.5 million new HIV infections in 2021, which is 1 million higher than the 2020 target of 500,000, according to UNAIDS. Twenty-eight countries comprising 75% of all new HIV infections globally are among the meeting’s attendees who aim to “…set targets and put precision prevention programming into practice,” according to a recent statement.
“The outcome of this meeting must be a renewed sense of urgency around the need to scale-up HIV testing, treatment, and focused initiatives to address late presenters to care,” said AHF Africa Bureau Chief Dr. Penninah Iutung. “The HIV/AIDS fight is far from over – the ‘other pandemic’ requires the world’s immediate attention if we’re to prevent millions of avoidable deaths and protect our most vulnerable communities – particularly key populations – including young women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa.”
The world will forever face infectious disease outbreaks like COVID-19 and monkeypox, which is why all stakeholders, including UNAIDS, governments, civil society, and the private sector, must ensure a robust HIV/AIDS response despite other health emergencies. Precious progress has been made over past decades, but those fragile gains will be lost unless the top priorities are ensuring everyone can get tested to know their status and immediately access treatment if needed.