Report also calls for increased efforts to reach the 9.4 million people living with HIV who are not aware that they are living with the virus and the estimated 19.4 million people living with HIV who do not have a suppressed viral load
A new report from UNAIDS shows that intensified HIV testing and treatment efforts are reaching more people living with HIV. In 2017, three quarters of people living with HIV (75%) knew their HIV status, compared to just two thirds (67%) in 2015, and 21.7 million people living with HIV (59%) had access to antiretroviral therapy, up from 17.2 million in 2015. The report shows, however, that 9.4 million people living with HIV do not know they are living with the virus and urgently need to be linked to HIV testing and treatment services.
The report, Knowledge is power, reveals that although the number of people living with HIV who are virally suppressed has risen by around 10 percentage points in the past three years, reaching 47% in 2017, 19.4 million people living with HIV still do not have a suppressed viral load. To remain healthy and to prevent transmission, the virus needs to be suppressed to undetectable or very low levels through sustained antiretroviral therapy. And to effectively monitor viral load, people living with HIV need access to viral load testing every 12 months.
“Viral load testing is the gold standard in HIV treatment monitoring,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “It shows that treatment is working, keeping people alive and well and keeping the virus firmly under control.”
The report outlines that access to viral load testing is mixed. In some parts of the world, getting a viral load test is easy and is fully integrated into a person’s HIV treatment regime, but in other places there may be only one viral load machine for the entire country.