How achievable are the 2020 global goals on HIV?

Linda Gail Bekker speaks at the ICASA conference in Kigali on Thursday. Photo: D. Nsengiyumva.

We are just a few days away to the year 2020, where the world will have to have achieved the 90-90-90 target that stipulates; 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

The UN data indicates that there were 37.9 million people living with HIV in 2018, where 79 per cent among them knew their HIV status. It means about 8.1 million people did not know that they were living with HIV.

Among people who knew their status, 78 per cent were accessing treatment, and among them, 86 per cent were virally suppressed.

In a presentation called ‘Developing better prevention options’ in the ongoing ICASA conference, Linda Gail Bekker, Deputy Director at Desmond Tutu HIV Centre and immediate Past President of the International AIDS Society said the World may not meet the 90-90-90 goals.

“We are falling short on prevention. Now the infection is increasing in east Europe, in the northern parts of Africa, we aren’t succeeding as the graph continues to go up”, Bekker said.

Bekker pointed out that although some things have been achieved, like reducing vertical transmission- transmission from an HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding, and Viral Load Suppression, among others, there is a gap in prevention of HIV new infections.

There were an estimated 1.7 million new infections in 2018, which equal to approximately 4,600 new infections per day, where almost three-quarters of them are Adolescents and approximately 770,000 people died from HIV related illness in 2018.

Bekker pointed out that the main drive to the goals are political reasons. She said that where there is national commitment, countries would never fail to attain the 90-90-90.

Rwanda has edged closer to the 90-90-90 goal. Data show that 83.8% of adults living with HIV were aware of their status, and of these, 97.5% were on Antiretroviral Treatment, and 90.1% had Viral Load Suppression.

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