In honor of World AIDS Day, we at FIND join the voices around the globe that applaud the huge progress that has been made over the last decade, and call on the community to continue the vital work that will one day end this disease.
Thanks to that progress, HIV is no longer the world’s leading infectious disease killer. The annual number of new cases has been falling since 2015. More than 20 million people are on antiretroviral therapy – a near threefold increase since 2010.
This is a testament to what can be achieved through collective action and targeted investments in research and development. While we laud these improvements, we also emphasize the need to safeguard successes.
We must continue to work to ensure access to testing, particularly amongst at-risk groups. According to UNAIDS, 30% of people with HIV are not aware of their status.
It is also time to treat the challenge of co-infection more seriously. Tuberculosis (TB) is claiming the lives of people with HIV at an unacceptable rate. One in three AIDS-related deaths is due to TB. This is particularly disturbing because TB is essentially treatable. A major challenge is that it is incredibly difficult to diagnose TB in people living with HIV using commonly available diagnostic methods. We know that overall, more than 10 million people are infected with TB, but only 6 million of those people are diagnosed and reported in the health system.
Game-changing molecular tests like Xpert Ultra may be capable of shifting the paradigm, but the impact of these innovations will be limited without better coordination between HIV and TB programmes. We can no longer afford to work in isolation, watching TB undo the progress that has been made in HIV. We need to find the “missing millions”.
So today we use our voice to recognize the many individuals, organizations and governments that are responsible for the successes in HIV that we have seen thus far. And at the same time, convinced we can reach global goals if we do, we plea for more robust collaboration.