Each year, on 1 December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. In 2019, there were still 38 million people living with HIV infection. One in five people living with HIV were not aware of their infection and one in 3 people receiving HIV treatment experienced disruption to the supply of HIV treatments, testing and prevention services, especially children and adolescents. In 2019, 690 000 people died from HIV-related causes and 1.7 million people were newly infected, with nearly 2 in three (62%) of these new infections occurring among key populations and their partners.
Despite significant efforts, progress in scaling up HIV services was already stalling before the COVID-19 pandemic. Slowing progress means the world will be missing the “90-90-90” targets for 2020, which were to ensure that: 90% of people living with HIV are aware of their status; 90% of people diagnosed with HIV are receiving treatment; and 90% of all people receiving treatment have achieved viral suppression. Missing these intermediate targets will make it even more difficult to achieve the end of AIDS by 2030.
The breakdown in essential HIV services due to COVID-19 threatens lives. COVID makes it difficult and dangerous for frontline health workers to deliver continuous, high quality HIV services to everyone who needs them. Sickness and restricted movement make it difficult for people living with HIV to access services. Economic disruption caused by COVID can make HIV services unaffordable or unobtainable. And the pandemic may interfere with supply chains and service delivery.
WHO theme for World AIDS Day this year is “Global solidarity, resilient HIV services”. The key actions are:
- Renew our fight to end HIV
- Use innovative HIV services to ensure continued HIV care.
- Engage and protect our nurses, midwives and community health workers
- Prioritize the vulnerable – youth and key populations
National AIDS Control Program goal is to prevent a generalized epidemic in Pakistan by containing the spread of HIV and AIDS and elimination of stigma and discrimination against those infected and effected. NACP has registered 43,964 HIV cases, and among them 24,290 are on ART and 6588 PWID are in 47 ART centers till September 2020.
On World AIDS Day 2020, WHO is calling on global leaders and citizens to rally for “global solidarity” to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19 on the HIV response.