This year’s theme for World AIDS Day, which will be marking its 30th anniversary on 1 December, will be “Know your status”.
Significant progress has been made in the AIDS response since 1988, and today three in four people living with HIV know their status. But we still have miles to go, as the latest UNAIDS report shows, and that includes reaching people living with HIV who do not know their status and ensuring that they are linked to quality care and prevention services.
HIV testing is essential for expanding treatment and ensuring that all people living with HIV can lead healthy and productive lives. It is also crucial to achieving the 90-90–90 targets and empowering people to make choices about HIV prevention so they can protect themselves and their loved ones.
Unfortunately, many barriers to HIV testing remain. Stigma and discrimination still deters people from taking an HIV test. Access to confidential HIV testing is still an issue of concern. Many people still only get tested after becoming ill and symptomatic.
The good news is that there are many new ways of expanding access to HIV testing. Self-testing, community-based testing and multidisease testing are all helping people to know their HIV status.
HIV testing programmes must be expanded. For this, we need political will and investment, as well as novel and innovative approaches to HIV testing that are fully leveraged and taken to scale.
Join us this World AIDS Day in raising awareness about the importance of knowing one’s status and calling for the removal of all barriers to accessing HIV testing...
Comment (Neil): I note especially the words: "Stigma and discrimination still deters people from taking an HIV test. Access to confidential HIV testing is still an issue of concern. Many people still only get tested after becoming ill and symptomatic." What do we know about these challenges and barriers in different cultures/contexts and how can they be overcome? Can they be measured?
Best wishes, Neil
Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children:
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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG /orcid.org/0000-0001-9557-1487 firstname.lastname@example.org