World AIDS Day 2016: HIV Prevention

As the world gets ready for the annual World AIDS day on December 1st, the fight against HIV/AIDS prevention seems to be stalling. Even though for the last decade global response to AIDS has been transformed, currently new adult HIV infections have stonewalled.

By the end of 2015, an estimated 15 million people had access to life-saving HIV treatment. Additionally, according to UNAIDS, access to HIV treatment prevented a whopping 4.2 million deaths all over the world from 2002 to 2012.

But according to the latest UNAIDS Prevention gap report, in the last five years, the number of new HIV cases has remained at an estimated 1.9 million adults annually. The report also shows that in some regions the number of new HIV infections is rising instead of decreasing.

Reinvigorate HIV Prevention Efforts

It’s because of these bleak numbers that this year’s World AIDS day efforts are focusing on reinvigorating HIV prevention efforts in order to achieve the goal of eradicating the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

World AIDS Day celebration is the most recognized health days celebrations all over the world. The celebrations give health organizations the key opportunity to increase HIV/AIDS awareness among people, increase access to HIV/AIDS treatment and also continue the discussion on various preventive measures.

The celebrations are always geared towards supporting Member States to strengthen their health systems, come up with new and effective policies and programs, and to also increase the capacity of health sectors towards prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

World AIDS Day 2016 Theme

The theme for this year’s celebrations is HIV Prevention. A campaign dubbed hands up for HIV prevention has been exploring different aspects of HIV prevention since September. The campaign has also been investigating how these aspects relate to specific cohorts of people, such as key populations living with HIV, young women and adolescent girls.

The campaign has been giving people the opportunity and space to offer their views on what they believe should be done to improve HIV prevention endeavors. The campaign has been covering HIV prevention efforts such as condoms, PrEP, HIV PEP, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision and HIV testing and viral suppression. It’s also looking at how to address the obstacles preventing people living with HIV, young women and adolescent girls from obtaining and using these preventive services.

Current HIV/AIDS Statistics

HIV is still a major global public health issue that the world is grappling with. According to UNAIDS 2016 report, there were an estimated 36.7 million people living with HIV in 2015. 1.8 million of these were children. Sadly, about 40% of all people living with HIV are not aware that they are infected. New HIV infections in 2015 stood at about 2.1 million, 150,000 of these were among children. A good number of these infected children are living in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected through mother to child transmission during pregnancy, giving birth or breastfeeding.

From the time the HIV epidemic was first reported, an estimated 78 million people have been reported to be HIV positive, while 35 million of these have succumbed to AIDS-related illnesses. Statistics show that progress in preventing new HIV cases has been declining with numbers remaining static from 2010.

On the other hand, access to HIV treatment has increased dramatically over the last couple of years, especially in poor countries. By December 2015, 17 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART). This is an increase from 15.8 million in June 2015 and 7.5 million in 2010.

There has also been a huge progress witnessed in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission. In 2015, 77% of all pregnant women living with HIV had access to mother-to-child prevention treatment.

Very good progress has been made to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS lead a healthy, comfortable and longer life. However, as we celebrate these huge strides this year, let’s not forget to continue fighting the fight against new HIV infections.

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