New Delhi: On World AIDS Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reiterated its commitment to achieving a region and world in which AIDS is no longer a public health threat, leaving no individual, community or population behind. In a WHO press release, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, Poonam Khetrapal Singh said that in the South-East Asia region alone, 3.8 million people are living under HIV accounting for 10 per cent of the global burden.
On World AIDS Day, WHO joins Member States and partners in the South-East Asia Region and across the world to highlight the urgent need for everyone, everywhere to be provided equitable access to quality HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030, the release said.
As per the release, an estimated 38.4 million people are living with HIV, globally. In 2021, an estimated 1.5 million people acquired HIV and around 650 000 people died from AIDS-related causes. In the South-East Asia Region, an estimated 3.8 million people are living with HIV, accounting for around 10 per cent of the global burden. In 2021, an estimated 82 000 people in the Region died of AIDS-related causes, accounting for more than 12 per cent of the global burden.
Amid the COVID-19 response and recovery, the Region continues to take targeted action to end HIV-related inequalities and expand service coverage, in line with its Flagship Priority of achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and the Region’s new Integrated Action Plan for viral hepatitis, HIV and sexually transmitted infections (I-RAP 2022-2026), launched in September 2022.
Between 2010 and 2021, new HIV infections in the Region declined by 42 per cent and HIV-related deaths reduced by 63 per cent . Whereas in 2010, coverage of anti-retroviral therapy in the Region was just 17 per cent, by 2020 it had increased 3.6 times, to 61 per cent. In 2019, the Maldives and Sri Lanka were certified to have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis, which Thailand achieved in 2016 – the first country in Asia to do so.
The release said that by the end of 2020, 75 per cent of people in the Region living with HIV knew their status, 61 per cent were on anti-retroviral therapy, and 58 per cent were virally suppressed, meaning that despite strong progress, the Region fell short of the 90-90-90 targets, which were also missed globally. In December 2020, both the Region and the world committed to ensuring that by 2025, 95 per cent of all people living with HIV know their status, 95 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection receive sustained anti-retroviral therapy, and 95 per cent of all people receiving anti-retroviral treatment have viral suppression.
We have people and populations to reach, and progress to achieve. Across the Region, almost 95 per cent of new HIV infections are among key populations such as sex workers, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and transgender people. Only 22 per cent of young people know about HIV prevention, and coverage of testing for people who inject drugs has significant room for improvement. Access to game-changing innovations such as HIV self-testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis remains highly uneven, both within and between countries.
WHO further called for actions by policymakers and leaders across the world to combat the disease.
WHO is calling for action in several key areas. First, policymakers and programme managers should rapidly increase the availability, quality and sustainability of HIV services, ensuring that everyone – especially key populations – are well-served and actively included in service provision. Second, political leaders and other key influencers should immediately reform laws, policies and practices that facilitate both direct and indirect discrimination, stigma and exclusion. The human rights of key populations and affected groups must be respected, protected and fulfilled. Third, policymakers and other national, international and global actors must accelerate access for all countries and communities to the best HIV science, technologies and tools, which should be accompanied by evidence-based information on how best to deliver them, including through increased South-South collaboration and learning. Fourth, programme managers and other health leaders should implement concrete actions to engage and empower communities, civil society and affected populations, whose experiences must inform both policy and service delivery, as well as ongoing progress monitoring, the release further stated.
The inequalities which keep the AIDS epidemic alive are not inevitable. Together, we must end each and every inequality and accelerate progress towards our targets and goals. On World AIDS Day, WHO reiterates its commitment to achieving a Region and world in which AIDS is no longer a public health threat, leaving no individual, community or population behind, stated the release.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.