In 2015, approximately 3,000 people died of AIDS every day.1 Even though this number may sound shocking, it is surprisingly good news: AIDS-related deaths decreased from 5,500 per day, representing a 45% drop since 2005.2 In those short ten years, incredible progress in expanding low- and middle-income countries’ access to HIV treatment was made.
The persisting challenge of HIV/AIDS
HIV carriers can live long, fulfilling lives with the effective treatment we have today. The problem is getting infected people the help they need. In the countries hardest hit by HIV, access to one of the few healthcare centres that can diagnose, treat, and follow up HIV patient care is extremely limited.
For example, in western and central Africa in 2015, not quite one-third of people living with HIV received the antiretroviral therapy that can keep them strong.3 On a positive note, nearly 76% of those being treated achieve viral suppression.4 While there is no cure for HIV, treatment keeps the virus under control, strengthening the immune system and helping to prevent transmission.
- 3,000 deaths a day through AIDS in 20154
- two thirds of people living with HIV do not have access to antiretroviral therapy5
- 10 countries shoulder 80 % of the HIV burden: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe6
- 76 % of people with HIV who are receiving treatment have achieved viral suppression7
Working in partnership towards an AIDS-free generation
In 2014, UNAIDS announced new goals to end AIDS.
We are working hard with UNAIDS so that by 2020, all people living with HIV will:
- know their HIV status;
- be connected to effective, high-quality HIV treatment services;
- achieve viral load suppression.5
The UNAIDS goals acknowledge that diagnosis is the first step.
We believe in expanding HIV diagnostics to where it is most needed.
Our Global Access Program (GAP) for HIV viral load testing, founded with UNAIDS and other partner organisations, supports the 90-90-90 goals.
Our dedication to stamping out AIDS further led to a total of 1.5 million infant diagnosis tests using Roche assays in 2015. We thus introduced a new part of the program to formally include early infant HIV diagnostic testing. In 2016, we incorporated the newest automated systems to extend our reach.
This agreement with Roche Diagnostics is a powerful step towards ending the unconscionable failure of the world to meet the treatment needs of children living with HIV. We now need to use this agreement to rapidly scale up diagnostic and treatment services for all children living with HIV, in line with the 90-90-90 target.
GAP is working together with AmpliCare, an initiative that focuses on the complete continuum of care, from testing to monitoring and education, and works to optimise efforts on a regional basis.
I believe that as a healthcare company, we can be an important part of the solution to improve access to quality medicines and diagnostic tests. But we cannot do this alone.
The barriers to accessing healthcare provision are multiple and complex. We are working in partnerships all over the world to overcome these barriers, be they infrastructure, affordability, training, supply or awareness.
1. AIDS-by-the-Number. Geneva: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; 2016. Calculated from: <http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/AIDS-by-the-numbers-2016_en.pdf> p. 11. [Accessed July 13, 2017].
2. UNAIDS Fact Sheet. UNAIDS; 2016 <http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/UNAIDS_FactSheet_en.pdf> p. 1. [Accessed July 13, 2017].
3. The UNAIDS Fact Sheet. UNAIDS; 2016. <http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/UNAIDS_FactSheet_en.pdf> p. 5. [Accessed July 13, 2017].
5. 90:90:90 An ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic. Geneva: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; 2014. <http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/90-90-90_en.pdf> p. 1. [Accessed July 13, 2017].