Massive success has been achieved in the fight against HIV, but still more than 50 per cent of people living with the infection in South-East Asia region are either not linked to care or not aware of their status, a senior WHO official said today.
Ahead of the World Aids Day on December 1, Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia Poonam Khetrapal Singh today said the success has come due to concerted efforts through civil society movements, supported by national and international commitments and scientific research.
“Massive gains have been achieved in our fight against HIV. We now have more than 10 million people on HIV treatment globally. Efforts continue and are being accelerated to achieve the ambitious target of ending AIDS by 2030,” she said.
In the WHO South-East Asia region, as of 2013, there were around 3.4 million people living with HIV and 1.1 million of them are currently on treatment as against 83,000 people in 2004.
“We have managed to increase the coverage 12-fold in a decade. The HIV epidemic in our region is concentrated among populations most vulnerable to HIV: men who have sex with men, transgender people, people who inject drugs, sex workers, people in prisons and other closed settings. Although we have been successful in scaling up the health sector response for the vulnerable populations, more needs to be done,” said Khetrapal.
Stigma, discrimination and restrictive laws continue to be barriers to access of prevention, care and treatment services, Khetrapal said.
This year, WHO has launched an updated Consolidated Guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection, diagnosis and care.
“These are guided by human rights principles and call for governments to enforce protective laws to eliminate discrimination and violence faced by key populations,” Khetrapal said.
Further, she said WHO is releasing a new update to recommend antiretroviral drugs as an emergency prevention intervention following possible HIV exposure for HIV-negative individuals and to prevent and manage common infections that affect many people living with HIV.