– World Health Report
Only 53 percent of people living with HIV at the end of 2016 were receiving anti-retroviral treatment [ART]. With this state of affairs in play, it has been outlined that a rapid acceleration of responses is needed to increase treatment coverage, along with other interventions, along the continuum of service, including prevention diagnosis and chronic care.
This has been detailed in the recently 2018 World Health Statistics which serves to examine the progress of the globally accepted Sustainable Development Goals.
The report points out that “globally, HIV incidence has declined from 0.40 per 1,000 uninfected population in 2005 to 0.26 per 1,000 uninfected population in 2016. It has been revealed too that in 2016, an estimated one million people died of HIV-related illnesses. Of the total death a whopping 120,000 were children under 15 years of age.
The report has however brought to the fore too, that the global scale-up of ART has been the main driver of the 48 percent decline in HIV-related deaths from a peak of 1.9 million in 2005. Despite the high percentage of people not receiving at the end of 2016, it was revealed that by mid-2017 approximately 20.9 million people were receiving ART.
Not so long ago it was found that stigma and discrimination are among the top factors challenging the fight against HIV. It was with this in mind that key stakeholders in the Caribbean have pinpointed the removal of such barriers as critical to the Region’s attainment of the United Nations 90-90-90 targets by 2020.
The targets’ aim is to realise by 2030: 90 percent of people living with HIV being diagnosed; 90 percent of diagnosed people being on treatment and 90 percent of those on treatment being virally suppressed.
Moreover, the participants of the just concluded ‘Joint regional stakeholders’ dialogue’ in Trinidad and Tobago have underscored the need for the creation of an enabling environment in the Region to prevent stigma and discrimination.
It is believed that this can help reduce the incidence of HIV, increase testing, increase the number of people receiving antiretroviral drugs which would result in less deaths from AIDS and cost-saving within the health-care sector.
The two-day forum which saw the participation of Minister Nicolette Henry and Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, ended with an urgent call for the creation of an enabling environment to reduce discrimination which acts as a barrier for vulnerable groups accessing health services and thus hinders efforts to reduce HIV infections.
But achieving an end to discrimination as a barrier would require more than just a vision. Moreover, the forum attended by parliamentarians, faith leaders, civil society leaders, national AIDS programme and youth leaders proposed a public awareness campaign.
The campaign proposed is one intended to raise awareness among human rights activists, parliamentarians, faith leaders and youths about the CARICOM Model anti-discrimination legislation.
Even as the struggle continues to retain the gains made in the fight against HIV, the recently released report has also highlighted the global situation in relation to tuberculosis [TB]. TB with its own troubling impact has been known to further impact the scourge of HIV.
TB, according to the World Health Statistics, remains a high-burden disease and progress in fighting it, although impressive, is still not fast enough to close persistent gaps. Globally, the report reveals that “TB incidence declined from 173 new and relapse cases per 100,000 population in 2000 to 140 per 100, 000 population in 2016, a 19 percent decline over the 16-year period.”
It was revealed too that the TB mortality rate among HIV-negative people fell by 39 percent during the same period. However, in 2016, an estimated 10.4 million people fell ill with TB, of whom 90 percent were adults, 65 percent were male and 10 percent were people living with HIV. “In that same year, there were an estimated 1.3 million TB deaths among HIV-negative people and an additional 374, 000 deaths among HIV positive people,” the report has been able to ascertain.
It has further been revealed that while millions of people are diagnosed and successfully treated for TB each year, large gaps in case notification persists. In addition, drug-resistant TB is a continuing threat. This has translated to a situation whereby “In 2016, there were 600, 000 new cases of TB resistant to rifampicin [the most effective first-line drug] of which 490, 000 were multidrug resistant.”
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