PAHO urges testing as first step towards halting the AIDS epidemic

HIV rapidly increasing among the general population

HIV testing provides people with a unique opportunity to discover their HIV status and enables those diagnosed with HIV to rapidly initiate lifesaving treatment. To make matters worse, estimates indicate that only 75% of people with HIV know their status. Since 2005 we have almost cut in half the number of people dying because of AIDS, and we have dramatically increased the number of people living with HIV on treatment.

The global campaign to end AIDS has made significant strides but the epidemic remains one of the world's leading public health challenges, affecting nearly 37 million people.

Based on the latest data by UNAIDS 36.9 million people globally were living with HIV in 2017.

Health authorities in ME are encouraging people to use World AIDS Day to learn their status about the disease. In 2017, 9.4 million people were simply unaware that they are living with a potentially deadly, but treatable, disease.

While noting that since 1986, when the first AIDS case was reported in India, the report says the national response to the disease resulted in a significant achievement of 66% reduction in new infections between 2000-2015 and 54% reduction in AIDS-related deaths since 2007.

"Even though it is not one hundred percent certain, many youths feel if they use protection when having sex with an infected person, they will not get the virus", she said. We also have to build strong linkages to guarantee HIV prevention, care and treatment services after testing.

"Reducing new HIV infections is key to accelerating the response to HIV/AIDS in the Americas", said Dr. Espinal.

This starts with the provision of testing services, particularly for those at-risk of HIV infection.

"As part of the Government Sexual Health Strategy, we are going to be expanding testing, making it more available around the country, stepping up education and awareness, trying to reduce the stigma around HIV, particularly around getting a test", he said.

PAHO/WHO also recommends that the age at which young people can take an HIV test without the consent of a parent or guardian be reduced in line with the recommendations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has charged African Governments to improve funding support for HIV testing, care and treatment. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

Mabuza addressed the official World Aids Day commemoration at the Dobsonville Stadium this afternoon.

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