An estimated 36.9 million people globally are living with HIV, out of which 1.8 million people became newly infected in 2017.
The new report of the UNAIDS 2017 research published on Thursday, added that 940,000 people died from AIDS related illnesses, last year.
However, the report of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) revealed that 21.7 million people living with HIV were currently accessing treatment in form of antiretroviral therapy.
As published on UNAIDS website, there was an eight percent increase from 2015 such that 75 percent of people living with HIV actually know their status.
Though the latest release of the UNAIDS is an affirmation that intensified HIV testing and treatment efforts were reaching more people living with HIV, the report however, showed that 9.4 million people living with HIV still do not know that they are living with the virus.
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The report titled, “Knowledge is power”, however reveals that although the number of people living with HIV who are virally suppressed has risen to 47 percent in 2017, 19.4 million people living with HIV still do not have a suppressed viral load.
Furthermore, the UNAIDS report emphasized that people living with HIV needed access to viral load testing every 12 months.
More importantly, the need for viral load testing for newborns was stressed, with the report noting that only half of children exposed to HIV received a test within the first two months of their life.
Meanwhile, stigma and discrimination were identified as the biggest barriers to HIV testing, with many men, women, young people maintaining that the fear of being seen accessing HIV services remained.
However, there is the still the issue of HIV testing services being too far away and difficult to access or too expensive in some countries.
The report further highlighted how providing a variety of testing options and services, such as community-based testing and home-based testing can help mitigate logistical, structural and social barriers to HIV testing.
Other measures canvassed for are integrating HIV testing services within other health services, including maternal and child health services, services for tuberculosis and services for s3xually transmitted infections and viral hepatitis.
While noting that access to HIV testing should remain a basic human right, UNAIDS called for global commitment to removing barriers preventing people from testing for HIV to further include deploying an optimal mix of HIV testing strategies to reach the populations most in need, expanding access to viral load monitoring in low- and middle-income countries and ensuring access to early infant diagnosis for newborns.
Also, the report points to the engender HIV testing by more people by adopting the five C’s approach of consent, confidentiality, counseling, correct test results and connection/linkage to prevention, care and treatment.
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