The Global Fund partnership has achieved what was once considered impossible. From the peak of the HIV crisis in the late 1990s and early 2000s, we have cut annual AIDS-related deaths and new infections by half. Of the 38 million people living with HIV, 25.4 million are on antiretroviral therapy today – 20.1 million in the countries where the Global Fund invests. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse these extraordinary gains. We must #UniteToFight the two diseases.  

Fighting back

HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus, which targets the immune system and weakens people's defense systems. AIDS is acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the most advanced stage of HIV infection.

Today, with access to treatment, an HIV-positive person can expect to have the same lifespan as someone who is HIV-negative. One of the cornerstones of this lifesaving treatment is the use of antiretrovirals (ARVs). While ARVs are not a cure, people living with HIV who take ARVs effectively and whose level of HIV is suppressed to undetectable levels will not transmit HIV sexually.

COVID-19 and HIV

The Global Fund partnership has acted fast to continue essential HIV services and protect healthcare workers against COVID-19. Yet still, our Disruption Report shows that testing for HIV fell by 41% between April and September 2020, compared to the same time in 2019 across Africa and Asia.

We are relentlessly working with partners to #UniteToFight the two diseases. Together, we are investing in smarter interventions and bringing to scale innovations in service delivery for the most affected. Learn more

"Ending the HIV epidemic isn’t just about infections averted, it’s about potential unleashed."
Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund

Preventing transmission from mothers

One crucial strategy in the battle against HIV is preventing transmission from mothers to newborns. In the countries where the Global Fund invested in 2019, about 82 percent of HIV-positive mothers received treatment to stop the virus from infecting their babies.

Goodness Mbatha and her daughter, Nqabile are the living proof of treatment. When Goodness became pregnant at 23, she knew she was living with HIV. She enrolled in treatment to prevent passing HIV to Nqabile. Today, they are both living healthy, vibrant lives. Goodness and Nqabile's story

Targeting girls and adolescents

In sub-Saharan Africa, there are twice as many HIV infections among 15-24-year-old girls and young women as boys and men in the same age group. In the hardest-hit countries, there are six times more.

With the youth population expected to double in the next decade in sub-Saharan Africa, addressing the staggering HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women is critical to preventing a catastrophic rise in disease. Now with COVID-19, the stakes are even higher. HIV-positive girls like Grace Ngulube in Malawi are advocating for action. Grace's story

Key populations for HIV

“Key populations” is a general term for specific groups of people who experience increased vulnerability to HIV, tuberculosis or malaria. The “key” in key populations reflects that reaching these groups with prevention, testing, treatment and care, and supporting them to overcome barriers to services, is essential to ending the epidemics.

Key populations for HIV include gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, and transgender people, and people in prison. People in these groups are socially marginalized, often criminalized and face a range of human rights abuses that increase their vulnerability to HIV. Those living with HIV are also considered as a key population. Learn more

Confronting taboos

HIV challenges society to confront personal, often taboo, topics in an open and honest way. Thanks to bold and committed activists, community organizers and health professionals, the walls are coming down, little by little.

To reach everyone in need with prevention, care and treatment, the Global Fund and partners are moving to a differentiated care approach – one that makes services more accessible and tailored to at-risk populations and people living with HIV.

Talking about circumcision

Male circumcision reduces the risk of female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by around 60%. But this is not common practice in many communities hard-hit by HIV. The Global Fund supports programs that encourage this under-used, but effective prevention strategy. Circumcision mobilizer, Lutgard Oketch in Kenya represents the growing movement to "go beyond the cut." Lutgard's story>

Reaching sex workers

People engaged in sex work often live in the shadows, on the margins of society. They may face harassment, prosecution and violence, and may be unable to negotiate the use of condoms to prevent HIV. In such cases, the people most in need of prevention, counseling, testing and treatment are often the least likely to receive these services. Global Fund partners offer innovative service delivery programs that are accessible and free from discrimination.

Investing in gender equality

Women’s social and economic marginalization puts them at higher risk for HIV. Global Fund partners recognize that in such circumstances, a bio-medical approach to HIV is insufficient. We must address the root causes of vulnerability. That is why our funding model also prioritizes investments that advance gender equality. Learn more

Out of school and at risk of HIV and violence during lockdown

Melissa's story shows the increased risks that COVID-19 has created in the fight against HIV among adolescent girls and young women.

Learn how human rights impact AIDS, TB and malaria.

Human Rights

Published 19 April 2021