While COVID-19 has been at the center of health concerns since early 2020, the fight to end HIV continues. How are HIV communicators in the United States effectively engaging with their priority audiences? Here, four HIV communicators explain why they are passionate about their work and discuss how, in the current environment, they can best reach people in the United States who historically have had to bear the largest burden of HIV.
Tagged: World AIDS Day
The rapid spread of the Ebola virus through human-to-human contact — compelled by the urge to embrace a family member with symptoms of infection, to transport a neighbor to the nearest clinic, to nurse the infected or bury the dead despite the lack of basic protective gear — reminds us of the complex relationship between health and human behavior.
Like Ebola, HIV was once an emergent infectious disease. Although HIV may take years rather than days to kill its victims, similarities exist between HIV and Ebola in the conditions that facilitate their spread and the challenges to containing both diseases. Highly stigmatized, those who fear infection may avoid being tested or disclosing to loved ones; those diagnosed may face limited treatment options provided by harried health care workers within overburdened health care systems.
Now in its fourth decade, the fight against HIV has seen tremendous breakthroughs in medical technology. A spectrum of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment options now exists and is available around the globe. Clinical studies have proven that taking a daily oral ARV-based pill can reduce a healthy person’s chance of getting the infection — and, other types of ARV prevention products (i.e., gels, rings and injections) are on the horizon. Increased testing through provider-initiated strategies has increased access to both treatment and prevention technologies. There is even some thought that we will have a cure for HIV one day.
For those of us who work in the field of HIV, words like “eradication” or “elimination” are not commonly used. Yet, new evidence and tools suggest that getting to zero might just be possible if we look at HIV through a fresh lens and focus our limited resources in strategic ways. As World AIDS Day nears, an example in Vietnam shows one promising approach.
Vietnam is at a tipping point. The country is working hard to scale up methadone maintenance treatment for injecting drug users and to provide antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for those living with HIV. External resources, however, are declining and every dollar (or Vietnamese dong (VND)) makes a difference. The cascade of HIV care — an approach that links prevention outreach, testing and treatment services across a continuum of care — helps identify the key opportunities to improve services to stop the spread of HIV. This tool has come to Vietnam at a critical time. Vietnam’s HIV epidemic is still in a concentrated phase, with the highest seroprevalence among populations at higher risk. These include injecting drug users, female sex workers and men who have sex with men.
Using the cascade — in every facility, commune, district and province — helps Vietnam monitor HIV service system performance and focus its remaining human, financial and programmatic resources on the ultimate aim of the HIV response: viral suppression. The cascade approach identifies “leaks” in the system to target resources on interventions that diagnose people with HIV, initiate ARV treatment quickly and sustain those individuals with continued care. Knowing where the drop-offs are most pronounced can assist decision makers and service providers in implementing system improvements and service enhancements that make the greatest impact on individuals, communities and Vietnamese society.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has released their 2013 report, AIDS by the Numbers, which contains its latest data on the state of the epidemic globally and the progress made over the last decade. The report shows the world is coming closer to ending the AIDS epidemic but that significant challenges remain in getting to zero.
In 2012, an estimated:
- 35.3 million [32.2 million – 38.8 million] people globally were living with HIV
- 2.3 million [1.9 million – 2.7 million] people became newly infected with HIV
- 1.6 million [1.4 million – 1.9 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses
AIDS by the Numbers presents a wealth of data on a range of topics, such as HIV infections, access to treatment and AIDS-related deaths, along with regional statistics on HIV.
Learn more about AIDS by the Numbers.
Follow @UNAIDS to join the conversation.
World AIDS Day 2011
In observance of World AIDS Day on December 1st, we will be sharing personal perspectives on how HIV has impacted our lives over the last 30 years and where we will be in the future. Check back each day until World AIDS Day for posts and videos from our staff.
Share your perspectives: How has HIV impacted your life over the last 30 years?
Tweet us your perspectives and thoughts. Include #WorldAIDSDay and @FHI360 to add to the conversation.
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