On December 1 every year, World AIDS Day provides a spotlit opportunity to show support for people living with HIV and for those who have passed away from AIDS-related illnesses. This year, the theme of World AIDS Day was ‘Communities make the difference’. Below we summarize the content that UNAIDS, the Global Fund, and WHO featured on their websites.
UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, in a text and video statement on the UNAIDS website, affirmed the crucial importance of communities at all points on the HIV prevention, care and treatment spectrum – and stated plainly that “the way communities are being taken for granted has to change”. Her statement also reminded us that governments have committed to at least 30% of HIV services being community-led, and that at least 6% of all HIV-related funding should go to “community mobilization, promoting human rights, and changing harmful laws that act as barriers to ending AIDS”.
THE GLOBAL FUND
The Global Fund celebrated the central role communities have played in the fight against all three diseases, by strengthening responses at all levels, and honored “these incredible advocates and leaders” – community health workers, key populations, people living with or affected by HIV, peer educators, civil society organizations and grassroots activists – who ensure that in the fight against HIV, no-one is left behind.
The Fund’s World AIDS Day feature on its website highlights the inspiring stories, in text and video, of a range of activists/community mobilizers working in different sectors of the HIV/AIDS response: Loyce Maturu (Zimbabwe), Sepi Maulana Ardiansyah (Indonesia), Delgerzaya M. and Ususkhbayar D. (Mongolia), Sandrine Kouadio (Cote d’Ivoire), Altaf Sheikh (India), Martha Clara Nakato (Uganda), and Connie Mudenda (Zambia).
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
The World Health Organization featured the high-level facts and figures on the HIV/AIDS epidemic so far: an estimated 37,900,000 living with HIV (by the end of 2018), 1,700,000 people newly infected with HIV in 2018, 770,000 people died of HIV-related causes in 2018, and 500,000 is the target number (a number to reduce to) of new cases and deaths related to HIV per year by 2020. WHO says that of the 37.9 million PLHIV by the end of 2018, 79% had received testing, 62% had received treatment, and 53% had achieved viral suppression.
On 27 November, WHO released new recommendations for HIV testing services, including innovations such as peer-led, digital communications (messages and videos) to increase the uptake of HIV testing among young people, and using HIV/syphilis dual rapid-tests in antenatal care as a first HIV test for many women, which in some countries could help eliminate mother-to-child transmission of both infections.