The latest report of UNAIDS – Ending AIDS: Progress towards the 90-90-90 target – released on Thursday revealed the progress that the global community has made in making treatment accessible to People Living with HIV (PL-HIV). Now more than half of the PL-HIV have access to HIV treatment.
The report – Ending AIDS: Progress towards the 90-90-90 target – is the annual scorecard for progress. The idea behind the 90-90-90 target is to diagnose 90% of people who are HIV+; get 90% of the diagnosed HIV+ people on anti-retroviral treatment, and 90% of those on anti-retroviral treatment should be virally suppressed. This is attained when an HIV+ patient’s viral load reaches an undetectable level, curbing transmission.
As of last year, 19.5 million of the 36.7 million HIV+ patients had access to treatment. Deaths caused by AIDS have fallen from 1.9 million in 2005 to 1 million in 2016.
The bad news, however, is that the majority of the cases – nearly 95% of the cases in 2016 – were concentrated in just 10 countries, India being one of them. India has 2.1 million people living with HIV, with 80,000 new infections annually, as of 2016. In 2005, the annual incidence was 1.5 lakh people.
While the world seems to be on track to reach the global target of 30 million people on treatment by 2020, access to medicines remains a major barrier in low- and middle-income countries, including India.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is an innovative joint venture of the United Nations family which brings together the efforts and resources of 11 UN system organisations to unite the world against AIDS.
The participating organisations that form UNAIDS, also called the UNAIDS Cosponsors, are:
- UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees);
- UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund);
- World Bank;
- UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation);
- UN Women;
- UNDP (United Nations Development Programme);
- UNFPA (United Nations Populations Fund);
- WHO (World Health Organisation);
- World Food Programme;
- UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime);
- ILO (International Labour Organisation).
The joint programme is co-ordinated by the UNAIDS Secretariat, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. UNAIDS’ mission is to lead and inspire the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
HIV – Human Immunodeficiency virus – is a virus that attacks the immune system, which is our body’s natural defence against illness. This virus gradually breaks down a person’s immune system and make one more vulnerable to off infections and diseases.
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), on the other hand, isn’t a virus but a set of symptoms (or syndrome) caused by the HIV virus. A person is said to have AIDS when their immune system is too weak to fight infection, and they develop certain defining symptoms and illness.
So in a single line we can say that: HIV causes AIDS and interferes with the body’s ability to fight infections.