Slump in fight against AIDS can derail progress made so far

UNAIDS warned the global response to HIV is at a precarious point and the pace of progress is not matching global ambition, calling for immediate action to put the world on course to reach the critical 90:90:90 targets by 2020

Slump in fight against AIDS can derail progress made so far

At the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, representative from India expressed that AIDS could be ended only if we do not slacken HIV prevention.

“Tremendous progress against AIDS over the past 15 years has inspired a global commitment to end the epidemic by 2030. Out of the total 36.9 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) globally, 21.7 million of them were on antiretroviral therapy (ART) by 2017. Also, we must note that 1.8 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2017. If we are to meet the UNAIDS 90:90:90 targets and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)- one of which is to end AIDS by 2030- we cannot afford to slacken HIV prevention or delay provision of ART to every PLHIV and monitor viral load” said Dr Ishwar Gilada, President of AIDS Society of India (ASI), who is attending the conference in Amsterdam.

Dr Gilada also highlighted the looming danger of sidelining HIV prevention in recent years. “Global new HIV infections have declined by just 18% in the past seven years- from 2.2 million in 2010 to 1.8 million in 2017. If business as usual continues, then we will fail to reach the target of less than 500,000 new HIV infections per year by 2020”, he warned.

Dr Gilada said the global community is able to think and strategize for the likes of Test and Treat policy or 90:90:90 target and dare to dream of the target like EndAIDS by 2030, only because of India’s role in making ART affordable and accessible – at almost 1-3% of global cost and today India is able to meet 92% of global requirement of ART.

Prof R. Sajithkumar, Governing Council member of AIDS Society of India (ASI) said, “India boasts of an efficient public private partnership with a large proportion of patients under dual care as well. Almost 50% of HIV infected people are diagnosed by private practitioners, though many of them subsequently go to the Government for further care.”

Sajinthkumar added, “ASI plays a great role by bringing both groups together under one academic entity. Viral load monitoring and resistance studies that have been extensively promoted by ASI, will contribute to progress towards achieving the 90:90:90 target that is part of India’s National Health Policy 2017.”

Reflecting on the current scenario in India, Dr R S Gupta, Dy Director General of National AIDS Control Organization of India said that, “The good news is that incidence and prevalence of HIV has declined sharply, as a result of improved prevention, care, support and treatment. However universal access of comprehensive healthcare services to all PLHIV and reaching out to the hidden and unidentified populations remains a big challenge in achieving 90-90-90 by 2020 and eliminating HIV by 2030.”