(Photo Courtesy: www.joburg.org.za)
Close to 16 million people are now receiving antiretroviral treatment. In WHO South-East Asia Region, new infections declined by 32% between 2000 and 2014. Almost 1.3 million people are on antiretroviral treatment (ART).
"However, gaps remain. More than half of the people with HIV are unaware of their status. Those who test, do so late when they have symptoms and their immune systems are already compromised. Only 36% of the people living with HIV in the Region are on treatment; and fewer than 30% of people with HIV are able to get to the last point when HIV virus multiplication in their body is suppressed which is essential to prevent further transmission," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.
The new Sustainable Development Agenda includes the target of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 - by reducing the number of new infections by an additional 25% by 2020; ensuring that 90% of people living with HIV are aware of their infection and 90% of them are on ART, and 90% of those on ART have no detectable virus in their blood.
"Bold actions will be required to achieve the target for ending AIDS by 2030," said Dr Poonam, " with the health sector playing a central role. Countries need to prioritize HIV interventions to get the highest impact. This includes using newer approaches for testing like community based HIV testing, ensuring that all HIV positive people are started on treatment and those identified negative, especially who are at risk have access to HIV prevention and re-testing services."
According to her, the new targets are ambitious but achievable.