END INEQUALITIES. END AIDS. END PANDEMICS.
The World AIDS Day is marked on 1st December every year to raise awareness about the disease, show support for people living with HIV, and commemorate the ones who died of HIV. It was founded in 1988 and was the first-ever global health day.
Globally around 38million people have HIV, with around 15million people unaware of their status. Last year an estimated 1.5million people were newly infected and around 680,000 AIDS related deaths worldwide.
The theme for World AIDS Day 2021 is “END INEQUALITIES. END AIDS. END PANDEMICS.”
The UNAIDS warns of millions of deaths over the coming years if the leaders fail to tackle the inequalities regarding HIV.
Kenya has the joint third-largest HIV epidemic in the world (alongside Tanzania) with 1.6 million people living with HIV in 2018. About 53% of the 1.6 million people living with HIV in Kenya are unaware of their status.
HIV testing and counselling (HTC) has become a major feature of Kenya’s HIV response. This is in part a response to the large number of HIV sero-discordant couples, in 2012 it was estimated that there were 260,000 sero-discordant couples in Kenya (when one partner is HIV negative and one is positive). These couples significantly contribute to new infections, especially when individuals are unaware of their status.
The country has adopted a number of innovative approaches to HIV testing in recent years, including targeted community-based HIV testing, door-to-door testing campaigns, and the introduction of self-testing kits.These efforts have led to a dramatic rise in the number of people testing for HIV.
We can still end AIDS by 2030, but only if we act courageously and together to take on inequalities. We know what works from seeing brilliant responses in some places – but we need to apply that everywhere for everyone.
We have an effective strategy that leaders agreed this year at the UN – but it needs to be implemented in full. The transformative approach that we need to end AIDS will also protect the world against future pandemics.
The measures needed to tackle inequalities include;
- Community-led and people-centred infrastructure
- Equitable access to medicines, vaccines and health technologies
- Human rights, to build trust and tackle pandemics
- Elevating essential workers, and providing them with the resources and tools they need
- People-centred data systems that highlight inequalities.