World AIDS Day 2018: Know Your Status

News article 1 Dec 2018
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Let pregnant women and partners know their HIV status

According to UNAIDS, 78 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic. In 2017, 36.9 million people globally were living with HIV but only 59% of those living with HIV were accessing treatment. In addition, 1.8 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2017 and 940,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses. Women and adolescents are disproportionately affected by HIV. 

To redouble our efforts, on 1st December each year, organisations and individuals come together to show their support for World AIDS Day.  This year marks the 30th anniversary of this crucial day, that aims to demonstrate support for people living with HIV and commemorate those who have already died. You can show your support by wearing a red ribbon, a symbol of solidarity across the world.  

HIV testing is the first essential step in accessing HIV treatment, prevention and care services and in enabling informed decision making around HIV prevention. The theme for this World AIDS Day is “Know Your Status”.  A new report from UNAIDS indicates that 75% of people living with HIV knew their status in 2017, but this still means about 9.4 million people did not know that they were living with HIV. Another new report from UNICEF also highlights the need for urgent scale up of prevention, testing and treatment services for adolescents, a particularly vulnerable group. 

For pregnant women and their male partners, including adolescents, testing for HIV in pregnancy is critical in enabling access to prevention, care and treatment services that keep parents alive and well and prevent their newborn from becoming infected with HIV.  At the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health, we therefore aim to support countries in their efforts to provide integrated HIV services during antenatal and postnatal care. We have been working in partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in countries with a high burden of HIV to improve the quality of  care through integrated services for the three diseases - including HIV and AIDS - during and after pregnancy. Key to this is the early detection and treatment of HIV during and after pregnancy, as well as care of their newborns.

Professor Monir Islam, Senior Specialist in Maternal and Child Health at the Centre said:
“For healthy parents and a new generation of HIV negative children, let us ensure all pregnant women and their partners are given that opportunity to be tested for HIV and treated during and after pregnancy, and for the rest of their lives. Let no one be left behind”.