More Than Five Million People Living With HIV Still Untreated-WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on global leaders and citizens to recognize and address the inequalities that are holding back progress in attaining the global goal to end AIDS by 2030. 

One of the key issues highlighted by the organization is the fact that over five million people that have tested positive are not on treatment despite a policy introduced by global HIV experts to immediately enroll and treat people after testing HIV positive. 

“With global solidarity and bold leadership, we can make sure everyone receives the care they need,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General in a statement.  “World AIDS Day is an opportunity to re-affirm and refocus on our shared commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.”

Despite global efforts spanning over 30 years, HIV remains a major public health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. According to data released by the World Health Organization, of the 38 million people living with HIV, 5.9 million people who know they have HIV are not receiving treatment. A further 4 million people living with HIV have not yet been diagnosed.

The data also shows that while 76 percent of adults overall were receiving anti-retroviral treatment that help them lead normal and healthy lives, only 52% of children living with HIV were accessing this treatment globally in 2021.

Also, the organization notes that there’s still a high number of new infections where 70 percent of these HIV infections are among people who are marginalized and often criminalized. For instance, data show transmission rates are still high among men who have sex with men even as there has been a reasonable decline overall across other categories on the African continent. 

Apart from those figures, experts at the WHO also note an emerging concern about monkeypox whose name was earlier this week changed to mpox. They say in countries where this disease is circulating, 52% of the people who have tested positive are also living with HIV.  

Global data reported to WHO suggest that people living with mpox with untreated HIV appear to be at risk for more severe disease than people without HIV and worse the same data shows transmission of mpox can move quickly in sexual networks.  Generally, this World AIDS Day, WHO recommends a renewed focus to implement WHO’s 2022 guidance to reach the HIV and related health needs of key populations and children.

“People must not be denied HIV services no matter who they are or where they live if we are to achieve health for all,” said Dr. Meg Doherty, WHO Director of the HIV, Hepatitis, and STI programs. 

“In order to end AIDS, we need to end new infections among children, end lack of treatment access to them, and end structural barriers and stigma and discrimination towards key populations in every country as soon as possible.”

This World AIDS Day 2022 is being marked under the theme “Equalize” – a message highlighting the need to ensure that essential HIV services reach those who are most at risk and in need, particularly children living with HIV, key populations to HIV, and their partners. Also, this year, only eight years are left before the 2030 goal of ending AIDS as a global health threat

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